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Daniel Yirga
Kifle Woldemichael
Mekite Wondafrash
Wondwossen Kassahun
Kebede Deribe


BACKGROUND: Ignorance and incorrect beliefs can lead to negligence in prevention, control measures and inseeking appropriate treatment. Involvement of individuals and communities is an important component ofOnchocerciasis control activities. To attain community participation and design socially acceptable controlstrategies, researchers must be familiar with people’s knowledge, beliefs and behavior in relation toOnchocerciasis. Such information is scanty as very few studies have been carried out to understand these issues.The objective of this study was to investigate people’s knowledge and beliefs in relation to the cause and preventionof onchocerciasis in rural areas of Southwest Ethiopia.METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted in February 2008 among 450 study participants selected bymultistage probability sampling. Data were collected using a pre-tested interviewer administered structuredquestionnaire which then were analyzed using SPSS for windows version 11.5.RESULTS: All the 450 respondents had heard about onchocerciasis. A range of causes for onchocerciasis wereidentified. Overall, 248 (55.3%) of respondents had at least one misconception about the cause of onchocerciasis.There is a range of misconceptions about modes of transmission including contact with infected person, airborne,sharing cloths and sexual. Only 10% knew that black fly breeding in fast flowing rivers and streams as a cause forthe transmission. Overall 397(88.2%) said that onchocerciasis is preventable, out of which 376 (94.7%) indicateduse of drug as the means of preventing onchocerciasis. Nearly three-forth of respondents 334 (74.3%) rated theseverity of onchocerciasis as high. Nearly half (48%) rated the magnitude of onchocerciasis in their village as high,and 195 (43.3%) of them stated that they are highly at risk.CONCLUSIONS: While Onchocerciasis is endemic in the study area, large proportion of the community heldmisconceptions about its causation, transmission, prevention and risk. Therefore, community interventions foronchocerciasis need to include behaviour change communications aimed at dispelling misconceptions andincreasing risk perception.

Article Details

Original Article
Author Biographies

Daniel Yirga, Jimma, Ethiopia

Coffee Plantation Development Enterprise

Kifle Woldemichael, Jimma Ethiopia

Jimma University faculty of public health,

department of epidemiology and Biostatistics,

Mekite Wondafrash, Jimma Ethiopia

Jimma University faculty of public health,

department of population and family health

Wondwossen Kassahun, Jimma Ethiopia

Jimma University faculty of public health,

department of epidemiology and Biostatistics

Kebede Deribe, Addis Ababa Ethiopia

Fayyaa Integrated Development Association-NCMI,

PEPFAR-New Partners Initiative