ABSTRACT: The study examines the influence of interpersonal communication on awareness creation on the dangers of malaria diseases in South-East Nigeria. There is no doubt about the fact that malaria remained one of the deadly diseases killing thousands of people especially in Africa and Asia. One of the means to curtail its spread is through awareness creation. The study was anchored on Social Judgement Theory and Source Credibility Theory. The research used a survey method coupled with questionnaire as a data collection instrument. Four hundred (400) respondents were accidentally selected from Imo and Abia states, while only 360 copies were correctly filled and returned for analysis. The data collected were analysed and discussed in descriptive statistics (frequency and percentage method) while findings show that many of the respondents (50%) have high awareness and knowledge about malaria as many of them (55.6%) have high exposure to various anti-malaria interpersonal communication campaigns and interventions in their various states. Finding also shows that to some extent various interpersonal communication campaigns are effective as awareness is raised by organizing meetings, seminars, local gatherings, door to door and rallies. The study recommended that there should be an increase in malaria awareness among individuals, families and communities by ensuring community participation in the control while there should be an adequate records, documents and information about malaria in order to assist the health worker to spot easily the malaria-prone areas.
Keywords: Malaria Diseases
1.1 Background to the Study
Everyday, many people become victims of malaria especially children and women in underdeveloped and developing countries. Federal Government, once said that malaria is devastating families, made poor; poorer and costs the nation about 140 billion naira annually Olayinka, (2018) cited in (Ministry of Health, 2007).
One of the oddest, popular and deadly diseases in the world is malaria, yet many people did not pay attention to it unlike HIV/AIDS, Small Pox, Lasa Virus, etc. WHO (2015:1) says malaria kills a child somewhere in the world every minute. It infects approximately 219 million people each year (range 154 – 289 million), with an estimated 660,000 deaths, mostly children in Africa. 90% of malaria deaths occur in Africa, where malaria accounts for about 1 in 6 of all childhood deaths (Olufunmilayo, Olufemi, and Patrick, 2014).
Malaria infection during pregnancy is associated with severe anaemia and other illness in the mother and contributes to low birth weight among newborn infants one of the leading risk factors for infant mortality and sub-optimal growth and development. Aguwa (2009) describes malaria as serious economic impact in Africa, slowing economic growth and development and perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty. Malaria is truly a disease of poverty afflicting primarily the poor who tend to live in malaria-prone rural areas in poorly-constructed dwellings that offer few, if any, barriers against mosquitoes (Kibe, Habluetzel, Gachigi, Kamau, and Mbogo, 2017).
Malaria is both preventable and treatable, and effective preventive and curative tools have been developed over time through local and international collaborations. Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by protists (a type of microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium. It begins with a bite from an infected female Anopheles mosquito, which introduces the protists through saliva into the circulatory system.
In the blood, the protists travel to the liver to mature and reproduce. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever and headache, which in severe cases can progress to coma or death. The disease is widespread in tropical and subtropical regions in broadband around the equator, including much of Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.
There are common symptoms of malaria that will be noticed when a person contracted malaria. In the early stages, malaria symptoms are sometimes similar to those of many other infections caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites. Symptoms may include fever, chills, headache, sweats, fatigue, nausea and vomiting, dry (nonproductive) cough, muscle and/or back pain, enlarged spleen. In rare cases, malaria can lead to impaired function of the brain or spinal cord, seizures, or loss of consciousness. Infection with the P. falciparum parasite is usually more serious and may become life-threatening.
Symptoms may appear in cycles and may come and go at different intensities and for different lengths of time. But, especially at the beginning of the illness, the symptoms may not follow this typical pattern (UNICEF, 2017). The cyclic pattern of malaria symptoms is due to the life cycle of malaria parasites cameras as they develop, reproduce, and are released from the red blood cells and liver cells in the human body. This cycle of symptoms is also one of the major indicators that you are infected with malaria.
Although, it was established that malaria mortality rates have fallen by more than 25% globally since 2000, and by 33% in the WHO African Region. Most deaths occur among children living in Africa where a child dies every minute from malaria. Country-level burden estimates available for 2015 show that an estimated 80% of malaria deaths occur in just 14 countries and about 80% of cases occur in 17 countries. Together, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Nigeria account for over 40% of the estimated total of malaria deaths globally (WHO Report, 2010).
At least a million people die from malaria each year. Some put the estimates as high as 2.7 million. Also, 90% of the deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa. 70% of the deaths are of children under 5. That’s equivalent to one child dying of malaria in Africa every 30 seconds (WHO, 2015). Meanwhile, lots of previous studies have shown that ignorance, illiteracy, lack of adequate awareness among other factors are some of the hindrances that are crippling the effectiveness of various anti-malaria campaigns mostly in Nigeria and Africa in general. However, in order to fight the war against malaria fervently there is a need to integrate effective communication, not only through the mass media but also in a more direct, involved and interpersonal ways because communication is one of the essential ingredients for sharing information, behaviour change and mobilising support for an idea and it could be within an interpersonal framework, group communication and by extension mass communication. No doubt, communication enhances various campaigns including malaria awareness if properly integrated.
WHO (2005) maintained that lack of education, information and access to effective interventions has impeded the success of many malaria campaigns programmes in Nigeria. Meanwhile, messages on malaria case management, intermittent preventive, treatment were promoted using mass media and other communication approaches which include traditional communication channels such as “town criers” and local festivals, social marketing, radio spots and distribution of booklets to the public, apart from posters in the hospitals and other strategic locations.
Several participatory techniques should be used at a community level to facilitate community engagement in discussions concerning health and broader development issues. These include focus group discussions, participatory rural appraisal, participatory learning and action, appreciative enquiry, community dialogue and community theatre. This kind of interpersonal communication can help to facilitate behavioural change by giving individuals the knowledge needed to understand the problem of malaria, to obtain effective treatment and to administer that treatment effectively.
To this end, the study examines the influence of interpersonal communication as a tool for creating awareness on the dangers inherent in malaria disease, specifically in South-East Nigeria and particularly in Imo and Abia state with the view to know various anti-malaria communication campaigns and interventions that people in those areas have exposed to and the level of malaria reduction in the region.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
One of the primary questions that this study is seeking answers to is “why is malaria still kill lots of people in Nigeria and Africa when it causes is known, when it can be prevented and treated. WHO (2016) attributed this to inadequate knowledge and low level of awareness especially among the rural dwellers, thus, an increase in awareness of malaria including its spread, prevention and treatment would reduce the havoc.
Although, lots of studies have been carried out on malaria control, prevention and treatment; many of the studies lack focus on the contribution of mass media intervention and where mass media was the focus, interpersonal communication role in the fight against malaria was partially or not significantly explored. Also, most of the empirical studies conducted on malaria were not conducted in South-East Nigeria making the findings difficult to be replicated in Nigeria and particularly in the South East Geo-political zone of Nigeria.
It is against this background the researcher examines the influence of interpersonal communication as a tool for creating awareness on the dangers inherent in malaria disease, specifically in South-East Nigeria and particularly in Imo and Abia state with the view to know various anti-malaria communication campaigns and interventions that people in those areas have exposed to and the level of malaria reduction in the region.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
- To ascertain the level of malaria awareness, knowledge and control among people in Imo and Abia state.
- To examine the extent to which people in Imo and Abia states are exposed to anti-malaria campaigns through interpersonal communication.
1.4 Research Questions
- What is the level of malaria awareness, knowledge and control among people in Imo and Abia state?
- To what extent do people in Imo and Abia states are exposed to anti-malaria campaigns and interventions in their areas?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study will benefit lots of individuals, groups and various organizations. In short, the significance of the study is explained under the following headings:
Government: Government will benefit from this study as it will expose the policymakers to the need to develop better policies that will help prevent, cure and control malaria in Nigeria and many African countries where the disease is still common.
NGOs: The study will further serve as eye-opener for the NGOs to know how much they have succeeded in the fight against malaria and challenges ahead as many homes are still battling with malaria.
Medical Experts: One of the beneficiaries of this study is the medical experts and this paper will further inform them on the need to document malaria cases and always be ready to share it with researchers and others who may need such data.
Media Experts: The findings of this study will put media on their toes by developing new strategies, tactics and appeals that will promote malaria behavioural change among people in the society since communication is at the heart of effective malaria awareness in our society.
Researchers: Researchers who may what to carry out research in this area or related aspect will find this material useful as reference material while it may serve as buck material available to students, researchers and others in the area of malaria communication especially in Nigeria and African countries in general.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The study examines the influence of interpersonal communication as a tool for creating awareness on the dangers inherent in malaria disease, specifically in South-East Nigeria and particularly in Imo and Abia states. The rationale for selecting the two-state is due to inadequate fund, time constraints, proximity and other logistic to travel around the six states that made the Southeast Nigeria. Another rationale is that there is a prevalence of malaria diseases in all the states and any state pick could afford the researcher the same opportunity.
1.7 Operational Definition of the Terms
Influence: This refers to the impact or contributions of various malaria interpersonal communication campaigns towards creating malaria disease awareness in South-East Nigeria.
Interpersonal Communication: This is the use of communication usually a non-mediated often by health workers to enlighten and educate people on various dangers inherent in malaria disease.
Awareness Creation: This entails various interpersonal communication efforts in promoting knowledge about malaria diseases among people in southern Nigeria.
Dangers of Malaria Diseases: This refers to the various havocs that malaria caused on the lives of people in Nigeria especially in South-East Nigeria.
South-East Nigeria: These are states mostly in the Igbo land which comprises Imo, Anambra, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi states.
Malaria: This is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by protists (a type of microorganism) of the genus Plasmodium that affects the human system.
“INTERPERSONAL COMM. ON AWARENESS ON THE DANGERS OF MALARIA “
WHAT TO EXPECT: (Format: MS WORD, Chapter 1-5, Abstract, Table of Contents, Questionnaire and References)