The Malaria No More blog recently linked to a report by Gallup on the state of perceptions of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. I had been aware of public opinion surveys by the AFROBAROMETER group, but had been unaware that Gallup was also conducting public opinion surveys about global health issues in the region as well. They have some interesting questions related to malaria in their survey.

The results of a second round of surveys in 23 sub-Saharan Africa suggest that there have been marked changes in the perceptions of malaria in most of the countries in the region that were surveyed. Compared to 2006, in general, households reported higher net ownership (not use) and increased use of antimalarials (conditional on having a fever). They also find that there are increased perceptions that malaria is the most common illness in their country. Gallup had theorized that decreased perception would be an indicator of progress, but in my mind, we could also take this as a measure of awareness of the disease, which is likely being influenced by information campaigns, and no necessarily changes in the incidence of the disease alone.

So overall, good signs that progress is being made, but also that a lot still needs to be done. Ownership in general was no where near targets, and ownership does not even mean use. The majority of people still report that it is the most common health problem in their country, which also suggests that this should be an even bigger priority needing an even greater response from government, households, and donors. Plus, all the usual caveats about methodology and sampling, which were not reported, also apply. However, I was really happy to see the results of the survey and look forward to more research of this nature.

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