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Prevalence of soil-transmitted helminthiases among pre-school age children (12-59 months) and WASH condition in Mkuranga, Tanzania: a cross-sectional study

Abstract Background National efforts for STH control have hitherto been concentrated on school age children (SAC) excluding pre-school age children (PSAC). Though Preventive Chemotherapy (PC) for PSAC has been going on during deworming and vitamin A supplementation campaigns in the Reproductive and Child Health (RCH) clinics since 2004, it has not been optimal because not all PSAC receive PC thus remaining vulnerable to STH infections and potential source of community transmission. This study examined the prevalence and intensity of STHs infections among PSAC and the associated water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) factors in Mkuranga district, Tanzania. Methods A quantitative community based cross-sectional study was conducted between April and June 2019. Stool samples from 525 PSAC were examined for STH infections. This was complemented with a questionnaire interview of mothers/caretakers of the PSAC to obtain their socio-demographic characteristics and WASH practices. An observation check list was used to gather environmental WASH practices. Data were analyzed by statistical computer package (SPSS version 23), and summarized by descriptive statistics; proportions were compared by the Chi-square test at the significance level of 0.05. Results The overall prevalence of STH infection was very low (1.3%) and was significantly associated with condition of child finger nails (P = 0.001) and place of disposal of faecal matter (P = 0.031). Latrine coverage was very high (97.3%), while disposal of children faeces was 100% hygienic. Less than a half (43.6%) of households were using improved latrines. Majority (95%) of households had access to improved water sources; however, only few (5.3%) treated drinking water. Very few (1.3%) households owned hand washing facilities, conceivably leading to a low practice of hand washing with soap at food preparation (12.8%), child feeding (13%), after defecation (34.1%) and after handling children faeces (23%). Nail trimming habit was very good as a large majority (83.8%) of caretakers and corresponding children (87.2%) had their finger nails trimmed at time of survey. Conclusion PSAC are a reservoir of STHs infections, which coupled with the prevalent risk factors of transmission, form a potential source of continuity of transmission in the community, hence the need for a national deworming program extending to PSAC

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Tarimo DS
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