Community perceptions and practices in relation to malaria control in South West Timor Leste
Soares, Maria Lurdes Gama
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Malaria is still one of the major public health issues. It is one of the World Health Organization’s target to combat worldwide. In Timor Leste, malaria is one of the major causes of morbidity and mortality. This disease might be occurred due to factors such as poor sanitation and drainage system. In addition, it might be happened as an impact of other problems such as lack of knowledge about malaria within the community in Timor Leste. This research was carried out to investigate and explore the perceptions and practices of the rural community in Timor Leste in relation to malaria control. This will also provide some basis for consideration ways in increasing community involvement in malaria control in this country. This study applied a qualitative descriptive research methodology and it used four methods in conducting the study. The methods applied in this study were conducted three key informant interviews, two focus group discussions, two transect walks and researcher observation. In addition, the thematic analysis was used to analysis the data. Findings revealed that lack of knowledge, misconception of the cause and the symptoms of malaria and lack of health services lead the community to have no proper diagnosis and treatment. In addition, lack of community involvement also has been identified as one of the causes for reducing malaria morbidity and mortality in Timor Leste. The study also revealed that the current malaria program mainly used a “top down approach”, therefore the community did not involve actively in controlling and preventing malaria disease. Therefore, the current malaria program should take a consideration to develop a community-based program (‘bottom up approach’) to get community more actively involved in combating malaria in this country. This suggested approach believed to have a positive outcome for the malaria program to move to the elimination stage in the near future.