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A study of 883 mothers with children aged 0-9 years was undertaken in Kilifi district on the Kenyan coast in order to examine child malaria treatment practices. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to investigate: whether complications of childhood malaria were recognized; decision-making dynamics in treatment-seeking; and the extent and reasons for the use of proprietary treatment. Childhood malaria was perceived as a mild, everyday illness, not preventable but treatable. The link between malaria and mosquitoes was not recognized. Mothers recognized convulsions, anaemia and splenomegaly but did not link them to malaria. Antimalarial drugs were not given or were withdrawn from children suffering from these conditions. Ill children were treated promptly by purchase of over-the-counter drugs at retail outlets. The health education implications of these findings are discussed.


Journal article


Soc Sci Med

Publication Date





1271 - 1277


Anemia, Child, Child Health Services, Child, Preschool, Culture, Decision Making, Female, Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice, Humans, Infant, Infant, Newborn, Kenya, Malaria, Maternal Behavior, Nonprescription Drugs, Seizures, Splenomegaly