Background and aims Acute respiratory infections (ARI) are the leading cause of death among children under five in Albania. This study aims to determine the parent’s knowledge and care seeking practice related to ARI in children less than 2 years old in Albania.
Methods A cross-sectional household survey was conducted on June – July 2012 in the northeastern region of Albania. 600 mothers of children 0–23 months selected using a multi-stage sampling technique were interviewed by trained health workers using a structured pre-tested questionnaire.
Results Knowledge: Only 8% of mothers recognised fast/difficult breathing as a danger sign of childhood illness requiring medical attention. 78% of interviewers were convinced that every child with fever had infection and 65% of them thought they need antibiotics.
Care seeking practice: Of the 116 children (19.3%) who reported to have respiratory illnesses two weeks preceding the interview, 57.7% had an ARI. 70.2% of children with ARI were taken to a health facility and only 53.2% of them within the first 2 days. 63.8% of ARI cases sought medical care directly at the hospital bypassing the referral system. About 36.6% of cases seen by hospital providers were prescribed antibiotics compared to 11.7% of those seen by family doctors. 20% of mothers self-administered antibiotics to their children, suggested by community pharmacists.
Conclusions Mothers’ knowledge and care seeking practices related to ARI were poor. Community health education and strengthening of Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses programme are required to improve timely and appropriate health care of childhood illnesses.