Patti McGill Peterson Center for International and Intercultural Studies
The travel research grant from the CIIS and the Biology department allowed me to carry out a KAPs (Knowledge, Attitude and Practice) survey on 400 households in Kalahari-Mathare slum in Mombasa, Kenya. The KAPs survey was conducted in order to determine some of the factors that led to the prevalence of tuberculosis in the area. The Kalahari-Mathare area had been noted to be the area with the highest Tb epidemic in the Coast province of Kenya.
The senior director for Tuberculosis Management in Coast Province, Dr. Hajara said that there was gap of information and knowledge on tuberculosis in the area. People knew everything about HIV/AIDs but there were fewer advocacies on infectious diseases like tuberculosis. This is why I opted to do a KAPs survey to determine the ground level knowledge and the perceptions people had about tuberculosis.
I partnered up with Aisha Kanga, a public health analyst in Mombasa, to set-up tuberculosis training sessions to educate the Community Health Workers (CHWs) who would in turn spread the knowledge from one household to another. These sessions were however not exclusively for the CHWs since the event also attracted a good number of ordinary Kalahari-Mathare resident as well. I pre-tested some of my interview questions on these groups to determine some of the answers to the open-ended questions I had in my list of interview questions. The Tb-trainings took almost 4 hours due to the many questions the public had. Despite the fact that our session cut into lunch time, I found it inspiring that the community was eager to listen, and see what we had to say.
The slum is only 20 minute drive from my hometown in Mombasa, Kenya which means I am accustom to the environment, and therefore didn't find being in Kalahari-Mathare a hectic experience. Plus being a Kenyan and well versed with the national language, I was able to effectively communicate with the residents in Kiswahili. I did the interviewing for a month and a half, carrying out about fifteen interviews a day! One memorable lady who answered all of the interview questions correctly, confessed to have been present at one of the earlier Tb-knowledge sessions that we carried out. She also said "...Now my husband and children know all about tuberculosis". I guess they were right when they said, educate a woman, and you will have educated the whole world!
This research is going to be my Senior Independent Research and I am currently analyzing the results using EpiInfo (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and another software known as Predictive Analytics SoftWare (PASW). I am very grateful to have studied abroad in Denmark, because that is where and when my passion for public health blossomed.