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Health behaviour of rural mothers to acute respiratory infections in children in Gondar, Ethiopia

Health behaviour of rural mothers to acute respiratory infections in children in Gondar, Ethiopia

East African Medical Journal 72(10): 623-625

During November-December 1990 in northwestern Ethiopia, medical students interviewed 132 mothers with at least 1 child younger than 5 years old living in the villages of Dembosge, Koladuba, and Gondar so researchers could assess the mothers' knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding acute respiratory infections (ARI) in their children. All the mothers were married Christians from the Amhara tribe. 61.4% were illiterate. Most mothers recognized that respiratory rate (77.3%), high fever (76.5%), and decreased feeding (62.8%) were important signs of pneumonia. They all knew that grunting was also an important sign. Only 35.6% would take their child with these symptoms to a nearby health center. Other common treatments were taking the child to a traditional healer (64.4%) and applying butter and herb to the chest via a massage at home (95.5%). Traditional practices were the predominant interventions proposed by the mothers for mild ARI (e.g., cold, sore throat, and ear discharge). Most (58.3%) mothers proposed to clean the ear and to keep it dry. 85.6% of mothers would take their child with a sore throat to a traditional healer for tonsil extraction, a hazardous practice. The only treatment for mild ARI associated with maternal education was tonsil extraction by a traditional healer. Specifically, illiterate mothers were more likely to seek this treatment for their ill child than literate mothers (91% vs. 76%; p = 0.03). Effective ARI health education needs to be based on understanding the prevailing knowledge, beliefs, and practices of the mothers. Thus, the national ARI control program in Ethiopia should consider these findings when developing ARI policy.

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Accession: 008757913

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PMID: 8904039

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