Health communication practices for malaria prevention and control in Gamo Gofa: Reviewing the rural community block

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Author: 
Asegedew Shemelis Awoke
Abstract: 

Introduction: Despite prevention and control activities, malaria ranked first among the top ten rampant diseases in Gamo Gofa Zone, Southern Ethiopia The focus of this article was hence to investigate the communication strategies and approaches of health promotion initiatives. This article explored practices of the health sector in involving the community and share health-related information to the to the health well-being of the community.
Materials and Methods: Both quantitative and qualitative inquiries were conducted to investigate communicative behavior of the community in preventing and controlling malaria. 845 questionnaires were administered and filled by Health Extension Workers [HEWs] and rural residents, 12 Focus Group Discussions and seven key informants in-depth interview was done. Results: Of 1.7 million Gamo Gofa Zone inhabitants, nearly 1 million [55%] people live in malaria risk areas. From 85, 089—both clinical and confirmed malaria cases—in 2000 E.C, the cases doubled to 160, 959 people in 2003 E.C. The Zone health development process is relatively fragile. 67% of the respondents reported that the communication process is linear not participatory. The health promotion process, starting from the planning to the monitoring and evaluation, lacks the grassroots engagement and dynamism; and autonomous decision-making on local development matters is the missing link that the Zone has to revisit.
Conclusion: The Zone has no institutional organizational communication strategy to engage the rural community against malaria. This is resulted with lack of clear understanding of the role of communication coupled with abysmal community distancing. These defocused practices also incapacitated locally organized development groups [commonly institutionalized as Health development Army, HDA] to go nowhere.

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