Neonatal jaundice and its management: knowledge, attitude and practice of community health workers in Nigeria

Author(s): Ogunfowora OB, Daniel OJ

Abstract

Background: Neonatal jaundice (NNJ) is still a leading cause of preventable brain damage, physical and mental handicap, and early death among infants in many communities. Greater awareness is needed among all health workers. The objective of the study was to assess the knowledge of primary health care workers about the description, causes, effective treatment, and sequelae of NNJ.

Methods: The setting was a local government area i.e. an administrative district within the south-western part of Nigeria. Community health workers in this area were interviewed by means of a self-administered questionnaire which focused on awareness and knowledge of neonatal jaundice and its causes, treatment and complications.

Results: Sixty-six community health workers participated in the survey and male-to-female ratio was 1:5. Their work experience averaged 13.5 (SD 12.7) years. Only 51.5% of the respondents gave a correct definition of NNJ. 75.8 % knew how to examine for this condition while 84.9 % knew at least two of its major causes in our environment. Also, only 54.5 % had adequate knowledge of effective treatment namely, phototherapy and exchange blood transfusion. Rather than referring affected babies to hospitals for proper management, 13.4 %, 10.4 % and 3 % of the participants would treat with ineffective drugs, natural phototherapy and herbal remedies respectively. None of the participants knew any effective means of prevention.

Conclusion: Primary health care workers may have inadequate knowledge and misconceptions on NNJ which must be addressed concertedly before the impact of the condition on child health and well-being can be significantly reduced. We recommend regular training workshops and seminars for this purpose.

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