Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Pygmies towards the Transmission of Ebola Viral Disease

4 February, 2019

(with thanks to Tropical Health Update)

Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Pygmies towards the Transmission of Ebola Viral Disease


Background: Ebola virus disease (EVD) or Ebola haemorrhagic fever is a fatal illness in humans and non-human primates caused by the Ebola virus. Several outbreaks of the EVD have occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, especially in the Congo Basin. We therefore sought to assess the Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Pygmies towards the Transmission of Ebola Viral Disease in the Congo Basin of Eastern Cameroon.

Methods: A cross-sectional community based study was conducted from August to September 2016. Multi-stage cluster sampling was used to select 13 villages from the Abong-Mbang Health District in the Baka community of South Eastern Cameroon. A total of 510 inhabitants were selected using systematic random sampling technique. Data was collected using structured interviewer-administered questionnaire and analysed using SPSS version 20. Descriptive statistics were conducted and results presented using tables.

Results: Of the 510 participants included in this study with a female predominance of 257 (50.4%). The main occupations of the inhabitants were hunting 160 (31.4%) and farming 152 (29.8%). Although 425 (83.3%) of the inhabitants were aware of EVD, most did not know how what caused it: 76 (14.9%) thought it is caused by a witchcraft, 87 (17.1%) by a curse and 72 (14.1%) by dead animals. Based on the participants’ opinion, the modes of transmission of EVD included: waterborne 75 (14.8%), airborne 89 (17.5%), witchcraft 195 (38.2%), smoking 50 (9.8%) and consuming bush meat 101 (19.7%). Common practices carried out by participants included: consumption of dead animals picked up in the bush 113 (22.2%), consumption of fresh uncooked meat 73 (14.4%), exposing and touching dead bodies 396 (87.6%), scarification 357 (70.0%) and seeking primary health care from a traditional healer when sick 187 (36.7%). Respondent with secondary and tertiary education had better practices on the prevention of EVD compared to those with primary or no formal education (37.5% versus 25.3%).

Conclusion: Though majority of pygmies were aware of the existence of EVD, many had a poor knowledge on its cause and transmission, and equally showed a negative attitude towards the disease. Only educational level and tribe were significantly associated with good attitude towards the transmission and prevention of EVD. We suggest sensitization and surveillance of communities for EVD in the Congo Basin as a means to prevent subsequent potential outbreaks of an Ebola epidemic.

Note from wikipedia: Dembner (1996) reported a universal "disdain for the term 'pygmy'" among the Pygmy peoples of Central Africa: the term is considered a pejorative, and people prefer to be referred to by the name of their respective ethnic or tribal groups, such as Bayaka, Mbuti and Twa.[3] There is no clear replacement for the term "Pygmy" in reference to the umbrella group. A descriptive term that has seen some use since the 2000s is "Central African foragers".[1]

Regional names used collectively of the western group of Pygmies are Bambenga (the plural form of Mbenga), used in the Kongo language and Bayaka (the plural form of Aka/Yaka), used in the Central African Republic.


Best wishes, Neil

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