Management of childhood febrile illness prior to clinic attendance in urban Nigeria

B. M. Afolabi, W. R. Brieger, L. A. Salako

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Parents and caregivers often try various treatment modalities for the sick children before bringing them to clinic. Many community-based studies have documented home and self-treatment practices, often with the aid of patent medicine vendors, but less is known about prior treatment behaviour of caregivers who actually reach a government clinic. This study, therefore, aimed at documenting the treatment provided by caregivers prior to their attendance at a public hospital. Beginning in April 1996, a year-long study was conducted among 1,943 sick children and their caregivers who attended the largest government-owned paediatric hospital in Lagos, Nigeria. The major complaints mentioned by the caregivers included fever, cough, and diarrhoea. Most (89%) caregivers had administered some form of medicine to the child prior to the clinic visit, and on average, 2.5 medications had been given. Associations were found between major complaint and type of medicine given: fevers were associated with antimalarial drugs and analgesics (antipyretics), cough was associated with cough syrup and analgesics, while diarrhoea was associated with antidiarrhoeal drugs. Althoug one-fifth of the children had received an antibiotic, provision of antibiotics was not associated with a particular complaint/illness. Since caregivers appeared to use perceived complaints/illnesses as a treatment guide, this can form the basis of safer and more appropriate recognition of illness and home management. In addition, the information obtained in this study can be used for training clinicians to inquire about home management and, thus, for making more informed decisions about their own treatment and prescribing practices.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)46-51
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Health, Population and Nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2004


  • Child care
  • Child health
  • Drug therapy
  • Nigeria

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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