The Shan people’s health beliefs, knowledge and perceptions of dengue in Eastern Shan Special Region IV, Myanmar

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
http://www.plosntds.org/
(Accessed 29 Jun 2019)

 

Research Article
The Shan people’s health beliefs, knowledge and perceptions of dengue in Eastern Shan Special Region IV, Myanmar
Jian-Wei Xu, Hui Liu, Zadan Ai, Yan Yu, Bian Yu
| published 27 Jun 2019 PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pntd.0007498
Abstract
Sustainable dengue intervention requires the participation of communities. Therefore, understanding the health beliefs, knowledge and perceptions of dengue among the local people can help to design locally appropriate strategies for effective interventions. A combination of qualitative semi-structured in-depth interviews (SDIs) and quantitative household questionnaire surveys (HHSs) was used to investigate the beliefs, knowledge and perceptions of dengue among the Shan people in Eastern Shan Special Region IV (ESSR4), Myanmar. The SDI was administered to 18 key informants, and the HHS was administered to 259 respondents. Only 14.7% (95% CI: 10.6–19.6%) of the HHS respondents could confirm that mosquitoes transmit dengue; 14.3% (95% CI: 10.3–19.1%) knew that piebald or Aedes mosquitoes transmit dengue; and 24.3% (95% CI: 19.2–30.0%) believed that dengue-transmitting mosquitoes mainly lived in small ponds. Merely ten (0.4%) of the 259 respondents of the HHS thought that dengue-transmitting mosquitoes bite in the day time. The people in the villages where there were outbreaks of dengue had more knowledge about dengue. This study demonstrates that the health beliefs of the Shan people were closely associated with their lifestyles, social and natural environments. To stay healthy, the Shan people clean their houses and surroundings regularly. However, their knowledge about dengue was not adequate for effective dengue control because it was mostly learned from previous dengue experiences and in a context that lacks systematic health education. Thus, in this setting, with a weak public health structure, more international support should be provided to promote the knowledge of the Shan people about dengue and to increase their sensitive awareness to dengue, which might be beneficial for social mobilization and community participation during future dengue prevention.
Author summary
The burden of dengue has been increasing over the last five decades, and dengue fever (DF) has become one of the most rapidly spreading mosquito-borne diseases. DF has become another disease that threatens public health after malaria has become successfully controlled along the China-Myanmar border. However, it is currently not easy to contain epidemics of the dengue virus. As part of an integrated vector management approach, a community-based method is effective in the prevention of DF by tailoring the approach in a local context. Consequently, mixed methods comprising qualitative semi-structured in-depth interviews (SDIs) and quantitative household questionnaire surveys (HHSs) were used to study the health beliefs, knowledge and perceptions about dengue among the Shan people in Eastern Shan Special Region IV, Myanmar. This study found that the Shan people believed that their health was closely associated with their lifestyle and the social and physical environment in which they lived. Their beliefs originated from their primary social activities and cultural heritage. Most of their knowledge about DF was learned from previous outbreaks and interventions for the disease. The Shan people had a relatively higher level of knowledge about adult mosquito control, which they learned from previous malaria control programs, but they lacked knowledge on DF symptoms, transmission, vectors and Aedes larval breeding sites. Their knowledge about the methods of adult mosquito control could not effectively control DF. More sound health education is urgently needed to increase the local people’s knowledge of dengue and to rouse community awareness and participation in cleaning vector breeding sites. In the context of a lack of the necessary technical and financial resources, these interventions might rely more on international aid and help from neighboring countries, such as China.