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01.12.2017 | Research | Ausgabe 1/2017 Open Access

Malaria Journal 1/2017

Malaria risk factors and care-seeking behaviour within the private sector among high-risk populations in Vietnam: a qualitative study

Malaria Journal > Ausgabe 1/2017
Ingrid Chen, Huong Ngo Thi Thanh, Andrew Lover, Phung Thi Thao, Tang Viet Luu, Hoang Nghia Thang, Ngo Duc Thang, Josselyn Neukom, Adam Bennett
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (doi:10.​1186/​s12936-017-2060-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Vietnam has successfully reduced malaria incidence by more than 90% over the past 10 years, and is now preparing for malaria elimination. However, the remaining malaria burden resides in individuals that are hardest to reach, in highly remote areas, where many malaria cases are treated through the informal private sector and are not reported to public health systems. This qualitative study aimed to contextualize and characterize the role of private providers, care-seeking behaviour of individuals at high risk of malaria, as well as risk factors that should be addressed through malaria elimination programmes in Vietnam.


Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 11 key informants in Hanoi, 30 providers, 9 potential patients, and 11 individuals at risk of malaria in Binh Phuoc and Kon Tum provinces. Audio recorded interviews were transcribed and uploaded to Atlas TI™, themes were identified, from which programmatic implications and recommendations were synthesized.


Qualitative interviews revealed that efforts for malaria elimination in Vietnam should concentrate on reaching highest-risk populations in remote areas as well their care providers, in particular private pharmacies, private clinics, and grocery stores. Among these private providers, diagnosis is currently based on symptoms, leaving unconfirmed cases that are not reported to public health surveillance systems. Among at-risk individuals, knowledge of malaria was limited, and individuals reported not taking full courses of treatment, a practice that threatens selection for drug resistance. Access to insecticide-treated hammock nets, a potentially important preventive measure for settings with outdoor biting Anopheles vectors, was also limited.


Malaria elimination efforts in Vietnam can be accelerated by targeting improved treatment, diagnosis, and reporting practices to private pharmacies, private clinics, and grocery stores. Programmes should also seek to increase awareness and understanding of malaria among at-risk populations, in particular the importance of using preventive measures and adhering to complete courses of anti-malarial medicines.
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