Recognition and action towards meningitis amongst patients, their families and health providers in Blantyre, Malawi

Barriers to diagnosis in sub-Saharan Africa

Scientific version
  • Researchers:
    Dr Macpherson Mallewa, Dr Nicola Desmond, Prof David Lalloo, Prof Elizabeth Molyneux, Prof Robert Heyderman
  • Start Date:
    01 June 2010
  • Category:
  • Location:
    Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, Liverpool, UK
Recognition and action towards meningitis amongst patients, their families and health providers in Blantyre, Malawi
What is this project about?

People who get meningitis in sub-Saharan African countries such as Malawi often come to hospital quite late in the course of the disease. Consequently, African meningitis patients are more likely to die or be left with severe after effects. The pathway to improving speed of diagnosis begins in the household and community and threads through all levels of the health system before diagnostic accuracy and subsequent treatment can be achieved in hospital. In the UK and Europe, patient advocacy groups such as the MRF in partnership with community and hospital-based healthcare workers have been highly successful in improving early disease recognition and access to treatment.

This research will use individual and group interviewing techniques to explore the barriers and facilitators in households, communities and the health system involved in the treatment pathway in Malawi. It will also explore how the public interpret and deal with the symptoms of meningitis in the community and distinguish which symptoms are considered to be of sufficient severity to warrant conventional medical treatment (in hospital) rather than or in addition to traditional medicine

This study will focus on children and adults in urban Blantyre.

Why is this important?

Rates of death and disability are unacceptably high for meningitis patients in Malawi and other sub-Saharan African countries.

Potential outcomes

Once we understand the reasons for late presentation at hospital we will be able to design ways to increase early recognition, early treatment and improved outcomes for meningitis in the community.

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