KNOWLEDGE, ATTITUDE, AND PRACTICE (KAP) OF HEALTH EXTENSION WORKERS IN PRESCRIBING ANTIMALARIALS IN ASSOSA ZONE OF BENISHANGUL GUMUZ REGIONAL STATE (BGRS), NORTH-WESTERN ETHIOPIA
Background: Despite the global efforts to control malaria, it claimed 500,000 lives worldwide in 2015. This was partly accounted for by the increase in the drug resistance of the parasite brought about by the misuse of antimalarials by health professionals, especially in poorly equipped setups, where appropriate diagnostic tests are not widely utilized. Accordingly, there has been no study of Knowledge, Attitude and Practice (KAP) of health extension workers (HEW), which are the providers of primary health care, in prescribing antimalarials in Ethiopia and Beni-Shangul Gumuz Regional State (BGRS) in particular.
Objectives: The main objective was to assess the KAP of HEWs in prescribing antimalarials in Assosa Zone of BGRS.
Methods: Survey of KAP of 341 HEWs in Assosa zone of BGRS was conducted with a cross-sectional study design using structured and pre-tested self-administered questionnaires between July 1, 2016- July 30, 2016.
Results: The study showed that 314 (93.7%) of the respondents identified the correct antimalarial for Plasmodium falciparum and 281 (86.2%) for Plasmodium vivax. However, only 117 (41.7%) were giving age/weight appropriate chloroquine dose for pediatric age group and 223 (79.5%) for adults. Regarding the attitude of HEWs, the study also revealed that 88 (26.1%) of the respondents claimed they were highly likely to treat patients with antimalarials for fever without carrying out diagnostic tests, while 115 (34%) claimed they would never do so. Also, regarding the likelihood of treating patients with antimalarials in the presence of negative RDTs, 91 (27%) claimed they were highly likely to treat patients with drugs despite negative RDT test results while 122 (36.2%) claimed not to do so.
Conclusion and Recommendation: Though the implementation of the HEP and participation of HEWs in malaria prevention and control improved community accessibility to prevention and control methods in the region markedly, this wider access needs to be balanced with appropriate use in order to minimize the problem of resistance. Providing refresher courses, supportive supervision, and improving the referral linkage between the health posts and health centers is recommended.
Keywords: HEWs, KAP, Antimalarial resistance, Assosa, BGRS
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