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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Knowledge attitudes and practices of grade three primary schoolchildren in relation to schistosomiasis, soil transmitted helminthiasis and malaria in Zimbabwe

Nicholas Midzi1*, Sekesai Mtapuri-Zinyowera2, Munyaradzi P Mapingure3, Noah H Paul3, Davison Sangweme4, Gibson Hlerema1, Masceline J Mutsaka1, Farisai Tongogara1, Godfrey Makware5, Vivian Chadukura1, Kimberly C Brouwer6, Francisca Mutapi7, Nirbhay Kumar4 and Takafira Mduluza3*

Author Affiliations

1 National Institute of Health Research, Box CY 573, Causeway Harare, Zimbabwe

2 College of Health Sciences, Department of Medical Microbiology, P.0 Box A178, Avondale, Harare, Zimbabwe

3 University of Zimbabwe, Department of Biochemistry, P.O Box MP167, Mount Pleasant, Harare, Zimbabwe

4 Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Baltimore, Maryland, USA

5 Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency PO Box CY 342, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe

6 University of California, San Diego, Division of Global Public Health, Department of Medicine, San Diego, California USA

7 University of Edinburgh, Institute for Immunology and Infection Research, Edinburgh, UK

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:169  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-169

Published: 13 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Helminth infection rates in grade three children are used as proxy indicators of community infection status and to guide treatment strategies in endemic areas. However knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAP) of this target age group (8-10 years) in relation to schistosomiasis, soil transmitted helminthiasis (STHs) and malaria is not known at a time when integrated plasmodium - helminth control strategies are being advocated. This study sought to assess KAP of grade 3 children in relation to schistosomiasis, STHs and malaria in order to establish an effective school based health education for disease transmission control.

Methods

Grade 3 children (n = 172) attending four randomly selected primary schools (one in rural and 3 in the commercial farming areas) in Zimbabwe were interviewed using a pre-tested interviewer administered questionnaire. The urine filtration technique was used to determine S. haematobium infection status. Infection with S. mansoni and STHs was determined using a combination of results from the Kato Katz and formol ether concentration techniques. P. falciparum was diagnosed by examination of Giemsa stained thick blood smears.

Results

It was observed that 32.0%, 19.2% and 4.1% of the respondents had correct knowledge about the causes of schistosomiasis, malaria and STHs, respectively, whilst 22.1%, 19.2% and 5.8% knew correct measures to control schistosomiasis, malaria and STHs. Sixty-two percent and 44.8% did not use soap to wash hands after toilet and before eating food respectively, whilst 33.1% never wore shoes. There were no functional water points and soap for hand washing after toilet at all schools. There was a high prevalence distribution of all parasites investigated in this study at Msapa primary school - S. haematobium (77.8%), S. mansoni (33.3%) hookworms (29.6%) and P. falciparum (48.1%). Reports that participant had suffered from schistosomiasis and malaria before were significant predictors of these diseases (p = 0.001 and p = 0.042, respectively). Report that participant had blood in urine on the day of examination was a significant predictor of schistosomiasis (p = 0.045).

Conclusion

There is a critical need for targeting health messages through schools in order to reach the most susceptible schoolchildren. This will empower the schoolchildren with the basic knowledge and skills ultimately protecting them from acquiring schistosomiasis, STHs and malaria.

Keywords:
Knowledge; attitudes; practices; schistosomiasis; soil transmitted helminthiasis; malaria