Assessing the influence of information, education and communication (IEC) strategies in the prevention of malaria in pregnancy in Ejisu-Juaben District of Ghana

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More than 30 million pregnant women and children in Africa are particularly vulnerable to the adverse consequences of malaria caused by the most lethal parasite, Plasmodium Falciparum. Malaria Control Programmes in Ghana and elsewhere in the developing world need to give the highest priority to an effective and sustained strategy to bring about behaviour change to reduce the incidence of malarial infection. One way to achieve this is through effective Information, Education and Communication (TEC) strategies. Thus, a full range of activities and approaches from mass media campaigns to the use of interventions aimed at personal protection need to be used. IEC programmes need to be integrated into various components of programmes such as Insecticide Treated Nets’ (ITNs) distribution and re-treatment; and early diagnosis and prompt treatment. A descriptive study with a cross- sectional design using quantitative and qualitative methods were used to assess the effectiveness of information, education and communication (IEC) strategies in the prevention of malaria in pregnancy. Four (4) focus group discussions (FGDs) and three (3) key informant interviews (KIls) were conducted for baseline information. 200 women were also interviewed through the use of a structured questionnaire to explore the practices, attitudes, beliefs and behavioral tendencies amongst study women and their relatives, health staff, community leaders and opinion leaders. The study revealed that knowledge about malaria and how it can be prevented was high, yet the malaria in pregnancy and its prevention is a problem in the district due to lack of regular JEC programmes that are needed to reinforce and stimulate women to practice what they know. It is therefore recommended that effective implementation of IEC strategies requires that the District Health Administration provide regular and well focused JEC strategies, that are frequent and focused on encouraging pregnant women to adapt practical and positive attitudes and practices towards the prevention of malaria in pregnancy.
A thesis submitted to the College of Health Sciences in partial fulfilment of the requirements for Master of Science degree (Community Health), 2005