The findings of KAP studies and health reports indicate
that in spite of continuing efforts by developing countries
like Malawi, to raise health awareness among their peoples,
the majority of the people remain inadequately informed and
are generally found to lack basic knowledge about most
prevalent diseases. As a result most people are unable to
participate fully in primary health care activities.
Two parallel surveys were carried out: (i) on activities of
providers of information; and (ii) on information-seeking
behaviour of a sample of the public. A health knowledge
test was conducted to a sample of the public in order to
assess their levels of Aids and bilharzia awareness.
On matching the findings from the two surveys the following
deficiencies were identified. The major cause of problems
was that information provision was fragmented. Conflicting
messages were given by different agencies which appeared to
compete with each other. Distribution and access to the
available information was also found to cause problems.
Lack of research-based knowledge among health information
providers about information needs and information-seeking
behaviour of the people they are planning services for
compounds the problems of information provision.
Potential solutions include coordinating all activities of
health communication from top-to-bottom (i.e. from planning
to implementation at the community level). Efforts towards
strengthening extension services, consolidating and
repackaging of information, and consolidating of health
grey literature are argued to be appropriate. Promoting use
and marketing of the available information among the rural populations is also argued to be appropriate.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.