Background: Malaria incidence has been steadily declining in Cambodia, where the government is aiming to eliminate malaria by 2025. Successful malaria elimination requires active engagement and participation of communities to recognize malaria symptoms and the development of prompt treatment-seeking behavior for early diagnosis and appropriate treatment. This study examined malaria knowledge, preventive actions, and treatment-seeking behavior among different groups of ethnic minorities and Khmer in Ratanakiri Province, Cambodia. Methods: Face-to-face interviews were conducted in December 2015, targeting 388 mothers with children under 2 years old, who belonged to ten ethnic minority groups or the Khmer group living in 62 rural villages in Ratanakiri. In addition to describing mothers' knowledge and actions for malaria prevention, logistic regression analysis was performed to identify determinants of fever during the most recent pregnancy and among children under two. Results: Overall 388 mothers were identified for enrollment into the study of which 377 (97.2%) were included in analyses. The majority of mothers slept under bed nets at home (95.8%) and wore long-sleeved clothes (83.8%) for malaria prevention. However, knowledge of malaria was limited: 44.6% were aware of malaria symptoms, 40.6% knew the malaria transmission route precisely, and 29.2% knew of mosquito breeding places. Staying overnight at a farm hut was significantly associated with having fever during the most recent pregnancy (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 2.008, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.215-3.321) and a child having fever (AOR 3.681, 95% CI 1.943-6.972). Mothers' partaking in a variety of malaria preventive actions was protective against fever in children (AOR 0.292, 95% CI: 0.136-0.650). Among those who had fever during pregnancy, 39.4% did not seek treatment. Conclusion: Although the majority of mothers took malaria preventive actions, knowledge of malaria epidemiology and vector ecology and treatment-seeking behavior for fever were limited. Staying overnight at farm huts, regardless of the differences in socio-demographic and socio-cultural characteristics, was strongly associated with fever episodes during pregnancy and childhood. This study indicates the necessity of spreading accurate malaria knowledge, raising awareness of health risks related to agricultural practices, and promoting treatment-seeking behavior among ethnic minorities to strengthen their engagement in malaria elimination.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health