Treatment practices for degedege, a locally recognized febrile illness, and implications for strategies to decrease mortality from severe malaria in Bagamoyo District, Tanzania

A. M. Makemba, Peter John Winch, V. M. Makame, G. L. Mehl, Z. Premji, J. N. Minjas, Clive Julian Shiff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Malaria remains one of the chief causes of mortality among young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Verbal autopsies for cases of childhood mortality in Bagamoyo District, Tanzania demonstrated that degedege, a locally defined illness of children characterized by fever and convulsions, is frequently treated by traditional healers. To investigate this further, an ethnographic study was carried out in one village that included in-depth interviews with 14 traditional healers and 3 focus groups with parents. Parents and traditional healers were unanimous in their conviction that degedege requires traditional treatments, at least initially, and that these treatments are effective. While traditional healers do refer cases that are not improving to the District Hospital, this frequently occurs late in the course of the illness, after one or more stages of traditional treatments. The prognosis will thus be poor for those children who are suffering from severe malaria. Consideration should be given to enlisting the support of traditional healers in efforts to improve treatment for severe malaria, including teaching them how to distinguish febrile convulsions from cases of severe malaria.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)305-313
Number of pages9
JournalTropical Medicine and International Health
Volume1
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1996

Fingerprint

Tanzania
Malaria
Fever
Febrile Seizures
Mortality
Parents
District Hospitals
Africa South of the Sahara
Therapeutics
Focus Groups
Autopsy
Teaching
Interviews

Keywords

  • ethnomedicine
  • malaria
  • mortality
  • traditional healers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Parasitology
  • Immunology

Cite this

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title = "Treatment practices for degedege, a locally recognized febrile illness, and implications for strategies to decrease mortality from severe malaria in Bagamoyo District, Tanzania",
abstract = "Malaria remains one of the chief causes of mortality among young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Verbal autopsies for cases of childhood mortality in Bagamoyo District, Tanzania demonstrated that degedege, a locally defined illness of children characterized by fever and convulsions, is frequently treated by traditional healers. To investigate this further, an ethnographic study was carried out in one village that included in-depth interviews with 14 traditional healers and 3 focus groups with parents. Parents and traditional healers were unanimous in their conviction that degedege requires traditional treatments, at least initially, and that these treatments are effective. While traditional healers do refer cases that are not improving to the District Hospital, this frequently occurs late in the course of the illness, after one or more stages of traditional treatments. The prognosis will thus be poor for those children who are suffering from severe malaria. Consideration should be given to enlisting the support of traditional healers in efforts to improve treatment for severe malaria, including teaching them how to distinguish febrile convulsions from cases of severe malaria.",
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AU - Winch, Peter John

AU - Makame, V. M.

AU - Mehl, G. L.

AU - Premji, Z.

AU - Minjas, J. N.

AU - Shiff, Clive Julian

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N2 - Malaria remains one of the chief causes of mortality among young children in sub-Saharan Africa. Verbal autopsies for cases of childhood mortality in Bagamoyo District, Tanzania demonstrated that degedege, a locally defined illness of children characterized by fever and convulsions, is frequently treated by traditional healers. To investigate this further, an ethnographic study was carried out in one village that included in-depth interviews with 14 traditional healers and 3 focus groups with parents. Parents and traditional healers were unanimous in their conviction that degedege requires traditional treatments, at least initially, and that these treatments are effective. While traditional healers do refer cases that are not improving to the District Hospital, this frequently occurs late in the course of the illness, after one or more stages of traditional treatments. The prognosis will thus be poor for those children who are suffering from severe malaria. Consideration should be given to enlisting the support of traditional healers in efforts to improve treatment for severe malaria, including teaching them how to distinguish febrile convulsions from cases of severe malaria.

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