The effect of subsidized malaria treatment among under-five children in the Buea Health District, Cameroon.
Access to free diagnoses and treatments has been shown to be a major determinant in malaria control. The Cameroon government launched in 2011 and 2014 the exemption of the under-fives' simple and severe malaria treatment policy to increase access to health care and reduce inequality, so as to reduce the mortality related to malaria among the under-fives. This study assessed the effect of providing free malaria treatment in the Buea health district.
This retrospective and cross sectional study was carried out in the Buea health district. Aggregated monthly data from (2008-2010) before and (2012-2014) after the implementation of free malaria treatment was compared, to assess the attributable outcomes of free treatment. A semi-structure questionnaire was also used to assess barriers faced in providing free malaria treatment services by health care workers. Data was collected using a semi-structure questionnaire and a data review summary sheet. The data was analysed using Epi-Info 7, Excel and SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences) version 20.0 for Windows. All statistical tests were performed at 95% confidence interval (significance level of 0.05).
Increase utilisation of health care; as general and malaria related consultations (by 5.7% (p=0.001) witnessed an increase after the implementation of free malaria treatment services. Severe malaria hospitalisation also increased, indicating that most caregivers used the health facility when complications had already set in, which could have led to no significant reduction in mortality due to malaria among under-five children (4.4%, p=0.533).
Utilisation of health care increased; as consultation and morbidity rate increased after the implementation of free malaria treatment services. Communication strategy should therefore be strengthened so as to better disseminate information, so as to enhance the effectiveness of the program. There is the need to make a large-scale study to assess the impact of subsidized malaria treatment.