OBJECTIVE: To elicit and understand peoples' perceptions of intestinal schistosomiasis that is a prerequisite for designing appropriate control strategies.
DESIGN: Cross-sectional study using six focus group discussions (FGDs) and 432 semi-structured interviews (SSIs).
SUBJECTS: Community members in Busia district of Uganda. Main outcome measures: Data was collected on causes, transmission, health seeking behaviour, hygiene behaviour and on prevention/control strategies for schistosomiasis.
RESULTS: The symptoms of early intestinal schistosomiasis were poorly understood whereas those of late schistosomiasis were well appreciated. Cause and transmission of schistosomiasis were used interchangeably and schistosomiasis was mainly thought to be caused by drinking dirty or unboiled water. Schistosomiasis was perceived to be a treatable disease and modern medicines were said to be effective. Community members said that it is impossible to avoid contact with possible sources of infection for schistosomiasis as the lake was linked to livelihood of people. The groups that were particularly at increased risk of not participating in schistosomiasis prevention strategies included women, the uneducated and those involved in subsistence agriculture.
CONCLUSIONS: In order to effectively control schistosomiasis in this district, there is need to adapt prevention and control strategies to peoples' livelihoods. There is also need to target the less advantaged groups (women, uneducated and subsistence farmers) for intense health education strategies aimed at increasing participation in the control of schistosomiasis.
East African Medical Journal (2007) 84 (2) 56-66