A new Malawi-Liverpool Wellcome Trust (MLW) study has established that misconceptions and knowledge gap on non-communicable diseases such as asthma continue to deter parents from taking their school-going children for proper care and treatment.
MLW senior research nurse Beatrice Chinoko made the remarks in Lilongwe on Thursday during the dissemination of 2021-2022 Acacia study findings and an update of their asthma awareness activities.
She said: “People visit hospitals and collect asthma inhalers but when they return home, they get discouraged from using them because some tell them once they start using the inhalers, it is for their entire life.
“Thus, we have been conducting community awareness and sensitisation meetings to address this issue.”
Chinoko has since called for government support in ensuring increased access to inhalers in Blantyre health centres to help in asthma care and management.
“At times, you can find salbutamol inhaler in stock but the greatest challenge is beclomethasone inhaler which reduces inflammation of the airways. We believe that policy-makers will help us to make inhalers available in our primary health services for easy accessibility of people,” she said.
Through focus group discussions, role plays and topic questionnaires, the Acacia study project manager Elizabeth Mkutumula observed the knowledge gap on asthma among primary and secondary stakeholders.
She said: “About 61percent of people, including teachers, parents and learners answered that it was false that asthma is a chronic disease, which is worrying.”
In his remarks, Parliamentary Committee on Health chairperson Matthews Ngwale said such research is important to the health sector.
“My appeal is to non-governmental organisations to start picking some of the diseases and advance them so that they can be factored in the budget.
“It is good that the researchers have looked into it and seen the gaps present and made it known that asthma is an issue,” he said.