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Nigeria is one of the major African countries in which incidences of polio infection persist in spite of several eradication efforts. The preponderance of paralytic poliomyelitis particularly in the northern part of Nigeria raises the question as to whether parents of children affected with polio know how polio is contracted and spread, whether having a disabled child affects the parents’ attitude towards these children, and what they believe about poliomyelitis in view of their socio-cultural and belief system in the sub-region. Zamfara State, in the north-west of Nigeria is one of the endemic areas where resistance to the global campaign on polio eradication was very high. Therefore this study was conducted to investigate the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of parents/primary caregivers of children affected with paralytic poliomyelitis in Zamfara State.
This study is a cross-sectional survey in which the multistage probability sampling technique was used to randomly select two local government areas in Zamfara State where consenting parents/primary caregivers of children with paralytic poliomyelitis were purposively selected. The knowledge, attitudes and beliefs of parents were assessed with the aid of a 4-part 52-item structured researcher administered questionnaire and the data obtained were analyzed.
Two hundred and seventeen parents/primary caregivers participated in the study. One hundred and forty-two, (65.4%) reported good, 51 (23.8%) reported fair, while 24 (11%) of participants reported poor knowledge of paralytic poliomyelitis. More respondents 120 (55.3%) showed a positive attitude towards children with paralytic poliomyelitis. Younger age (P=0.016) and paid employment (P=0.020) were positively associated with good knowledge of paralytic poliomyelitis. Female gender (P=0.020), higher educational level (P=0.015), being employed (P=0.010) and having from middle to high household income (P=0.016) were positively associated with a positive attitude toward children with paralytic poliomyelitis. Most respondents showed a reasonable belief over the cause of their children’s condition rather than the erroneous traditional belief that paralytic poliomyelitis is caused by spirit forces.
It is of great concern that the good knowledge, positive attitude and reasonable belief by parents/primary caregivers about paralytic poliomyelitis observed in this study did not play a prominent role in preventing susceptibility of children in north-west Nigeria to paralytic poliomyelitis. It is imperative that Nigerian policy makers should device more strategic measures toward the prevention of paralytic poliomyelitis in this sub region.