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Community perspectives and caregivers’ healthcare practices and responses to the four major childhood killer diseases in Nigeria

Sunday A. Adedini, Oluwatoyin A. Alaba, Christiana A. Alex-Ojei


Two-thirds of Nigeria’s childhood deaths is attributable to four preventable/curable diseases—diarrhoea, malaria, meningitis and pneumonia (DMMP). Community perspectives and caregivers’ practices about these child-killer diseases are poorly documented. Drawing on individual and group interviews (n=259), we explored community members’ perspectives, and caregivers’ practices/responses regarding DMMP among children across Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups. Using deductive reasoning and data analysis in Atlas.ti, results from the narratives formed four thematic issues—respondents’ perception and knowledge about the causes of the diseases; perception and knowledge about prevention; perception and knowledge of symptoms and fatality of the diseases; and caregivers’ practices regarding the prevention and management of the diseases. Results demonstrate significant misconception about the aetiology of pneumonia and meningitis. We found ostensible disconnection between knowledge and practice. Interventions including health education programmes/sensitizations on the causes, prevention/management of DMMP are necessary to achieve reduction in the burden of childhood mortality in Nigeria. (Afr J Reprod Health 2021; 25[6]: 121-133).

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