Patterns of care for childhood malaria in Zambia

Carol Baume, Deborah Helitzer, S. Patrick Kachur

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Malaria is a major cause of death among children in many parts of the world, even though simple and effective treatments exist. This study examines care-seeking patterns and barriers to appropriate treatment for Zambian children with fever or convulsions, two key symptoms of malaria. The study focuses on community perceptions of and response to febrile illness, using illness narratives as the primary data collection vehicle. The 154 detailed narratives indicate that mothers recognize fever and treat promptly, and consider chloroquine in conjunction with anti-pyretics to be the appropriate treatment. Synchronic and diachronic analyses show that most treatment begins at home, although the majority of cases are also seen in the formal health system. However, whether treated at home or taken to the health center, most children do not receive appropriate care - in this case, a 3-day course of chloroquine - because of problems of access and lack of understanding of the importance of giving the full dose. Further, those children who continue to have fever despite receiving chloroquine seldom receive the recommended second-line treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine. Most children with symptoms of convulsions are taken to the health center, but are more likely than children with simple malaria to receive traditional treatments as well. Copyright (C) 2000.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1491-1503
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Nov 16 2000
Externally publishedYes


  • Fever
  • Health-seeking behavior
  • Malaria
  • Resort to care
  • Treatment-seeking
  • Zambia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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