The problem of malaria among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa has largely been overshadowed by the huge burden of the disease among younger children, as well as the huge burden of HIV/AIDS among adolescents.

A study of school adolescents in the coastal community of Calabar, Nigeria, highlighted the need to empower teachers with malaria information in order to address the lack of knowledge and misconceptions about the transmission and treatment of malaria among teenage students. The study indicated that more than 75 percent of the students were aware that mosquitos transmit the malaria parasite through biting.

The adolescents’ malaria prevention practices demonstrated their lack of knowledge. Few would prevent malaria attacks by:

  • clearing the vegetation in their peri-domestic environment (13.5%),
  • filling up potholes (16.9%),
  • opening up drainage (11%),
  • using insecticide-treated nets (25.7%) or
  • using antimalarial drugs (11.2%).

Less than one-tenth said they would use various other methods such as not accepting unscreened blood, while only 11 percent obtained the information from their teachers.

1. Udonwa NE, Gyuse AN, Etokidem AJ. Malaria: Knowledge and prevention practices among school adolescents in a coastal community in Calabar, Nigeria. African Journal of Primary Health Care and Family Medicine 2010; 2(1): 103. (open access)