Malaria continues to be a major impediment to health in Sub Saharan Africa, where it takes its greatest toll on young children, with more than 3000 African children dying daily. In Uganda, malaria is the principal cause of morbidity and mortality among the under-fives.
At the moment, the Roll Back Malaria (RBM) global partnership is working to reduce malaria illness and death amongst young children. As part of the process, Home- Based Management of Fever (HBMF) strategy has been initiated to improve prompt and effective treatment of malaria for children less than five years. Uganda has adopted this strategy and efforts are underway to promote HBMF at community level. Recent studies indicate that HBMF supported by public information that is regular and reliable in promoting the need for prompt and effective treatment for patients can help reduce malaria mortality in children (Africa Malaria Report, 2003:11).
Based on that premise, this study evaluates the communication strategies used by the Ministry of Health and other actors to senstize the target audience on HBMF. Using theories and models of health education/communication, mass communication, social marketing and participatory communication, the study provides suggestions on how best communication campaigns can be designed and implemented.
The study concludes that the presistence of malaria is not only a scientific problem but a behavioural one where social, cultural and economic factors must be understood and incorporated in the design and implementation of malaria control programs. It accentuates the need for a community-based approach rather than top-down approaches in designing and disseminating malaria control messages.