Do ownership of mosquito nets, dwelling characteristics and mothers’ socio-economic status influence malaria morbidity among children under the age of 5 in Cameroon?
Oyekale, Abayomi Samuel
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This study analyzed the effect of the number of mosquito nets that are owned by households, dwelling characteristics and maternal demographic characteristics on malaria infections. Material and Methods: The 2011 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) data for children under 5 years of age were used. The children were subjected to haemoglobin test and rapid diagnostic test (RDT) to ascertain the presence of malaria parasites. Data were analyzed using probit regression method. Results: It was found that 2.43% and 8.68% of the children were living in houses that were prone to landslide and flooding, respectively. Also, 19.93%, 17.08% and 16.26% of the children lived in houses without windows, with broken windows, and with a hole in the roof, respectively. Only 5.59% and 23.96% of the children lived in houses with window and door nets, respectively. Mosquito nets were owned by 64.03% of the households, where Adamawa Region had the lowest coverage (52.23%). Reasons for not owning mosquito nets by all the households included: lack of financial means (25.17%), using something else (1.80%) and not having many mosquitoes in the vicinity (5.53%). In the probit regression, variables that significantly reduced malaria infections among the children (p < 0.05) included: the number of mosquito nets, urban residence, improved toilet, ownership of a radio, residence in flood-prone area, mother’s secondary education, mother’s tertiary education and residence in areas with not many mosquitoes, while infections increased along with the household size, residence in areas prone to landslide, severe anaemia, moderate anaemia, mild anaemia and age of the children. Conclusions: Ownership of mosquito nets and dwelling characteristics are critical factors influencing infections with malaria. There is a need to ensure compliance with its use since there are disparities between access and actual usage. Also, addressing malaria problem in Cameroon should consider regional disparity in malaria incidence rates and more engagement of the media, among others, for appropriate sensitization.