The potential role of the educational system in addressing the effect of inadequate knowledge of mosquitoes on use of insecticide-treated nets in Ghana

Andreas Kudom & Ben Mensah | 15 Sep 2010
Malaria Journal
Background

Since 2001, there has been a tremendous increase in number of households protected by ITN and IRS in Ghana. However, there has not been evidence of a reduction in malaria cases as expected and reported deaths have rather increased since 2007. As a result, this study was undertaken to get a better understanding of perceptions of malaria, knowledge on mosquitoes and the value attached to ITNs among secondary and tertiary students in Cape Coast.

Methods

Structured questionnaires were administered randomly to gather data on demographic characteristics of students, knowledge of mosquitoes and ITNs and attitude towards the use of ITN in seven public high schools and four tertiary institutions in Cape Coast metropolis. In addition, curriculums of science courses common to all students from junior high school to the university were carefully examined.

Results

A total of 492 students took part in this study and more than 90% of them had high knowledge of malaria transmission and ITN, but little knowledge of mosquito life history. Only 1% in secondary and 2.1% in tertiary institutions had seen or knew about all the development stages of mosquitoes. In high school and tertiary institutions, 24.2% and 10.8% of respondents, respectively, were able to mention other genera of mosquitoes, apart from Anopheles. Though 93.9% in senior high school and 86.7% in the tertiary institutions knew that ITNs are either used to protect oneself from mosquito bites or to prevent malaria, 32.7% of the respondents in secondary and 21.9% in tertiary institutions who owned ITN did not use them.

Conclusions

The study reveals that respondents did not have adequate knowledge on the biology and behaviour of mosquitoes. This appears to weaken their knowledge of the link between the use of ITN and malaria control; the effect of this is that a significant number owned ITNs but did not use them. The implication is that if people will really accept and use ITN or other mosquito control interventions, then just creating awareness of those interventions is not enough but people should also be educated on the life history of mosquitoes and on the mechanism of the control strategies. This can be effectively done through the formal education system.

Full article available at http://www.malariajournal.com/content/9/1/256