Maternal factors influencing timeliness of seeking treatment for fever in children under five and healthcare preferences in Malawi
Oyekale, Abayomi Samuel
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Malaria is a critical health challenge in Malawi, especially among children under the age of five. This study analyzed the factors influencing timeliness of seeking malaria treatments and preferences among health care providers. The data were the 2012 Malaria Indicator Survey. Data were analyzed using Poisson and multinomial logit models. The results show that majority of the children (79.31%) were males and average mothers' years of formal education was 3.61. Many households (48.28%) did not incur any cost in treating their children for malaria, while 13.64% paid for fever treatment from their regular incomes. Majority of the women (85.76%) associated fever with malaria, while 43.78% associated it with chilling. Also, 52.92% and 32.98% of the children were treated for fever on the same day and the following day that sickness started. Poisson regression results had the parameter of free treatment, paid with regular income paid from occasional income and sale of assets significantly increasing days waited before seeking treatments (p<0.05). Multinomial Logit regression results show that relative to public hospitals, seeking free treatment significantly reduce probabilities of selecting private hospitals and other treatment methods while paying from regular incomes. Occasional incomes and sale of assets increased the choice of private hospitals. As the age of the children increased, the probability of using private health centers to treat malaria significantly increased (p<0.01).Also, as the mother's education increases, probability of selecting private health centers significantly increased (p<0.01). It was concluded that efficiency of public sector in treating malaria holds significant prospects for fighting malaria in Malawi. However, adequate efforts should be channeled in enhancing the knowledge of women on malaria symptoms, among others.