Research Article: Helminthiasis and Hygiene Conditions of Schools in Ikenne, Ogun State, Nigeria

Date Published: January 30, 2008

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Uwem Friday Ekpo, Simon Nnayere Odoemene, Chiedu Felix Mafiana, Sammy Olufemi Sam-Wobo, Nilanthi de Silva

Abstract: BackgroundA study of the helminth infection status of primary-school children and the hygiene condition of schools in Ikenne Local Government Area of Ogun State, Nigeria was undertaken between November 2004 and February 2005 to help guide the development of a school-based health programme.Methods and FindingsThree primary schools were randomly selected: two government-owned schools (one urban and the other rural) and one urban private school. No rural private schools existed to survey. A total of 257 schoolchildren aged 4–15 y, of whom 146 (56.8%) were boys and 111 (43.2%) were girls, took part in the survey. A child survey form, which included columns for name, age, sex, and class level, was used in concert with examination of stool samples for eggs of intestinal helminths. A school survey form was used to assess the conditions of water supply, condition of latrines, presence of soap for handwashing, and presence of garbage around the school compound. The demographic data showed that the number of schoolchildren gradually decreased as their ages increased in all three schools. The sex ratio was proportional in the urban school until primary level 3, after which the number of female pupils gradually decreased, whereas in the private school, sexes were proportionally distributed even in higher classes. The prevalence of helminth infection was 54.9% of schoolchildren in the urban government school, 63.5% in the rural government school, and 28.4% in the urban private school. Ascaris lumbricoides was the most prevalent species, followed by Trichuris trichiura, Taenia species, and hookworm in the three schools. Prevalence of infection in the government-owned schools was significantly higher than in the private school (χ2 = 18.85, df = 2, p<0.0005). A survey of hygiene conditions in the three schools indicated that in the two government schools tapwater was unavailable, sanitation of latrines was poor, handwashing soap was unavailable, and garbage was present around school compounds. In the private school, in contrast, all hygiene indices were satisfactory.ConclusionsThese results indicate that burden of parasite infections and poor sanitary conditions are of greater public health importance in government-owned schools than in privately owned schools. School health programmes in government-owned schools, including deworming, health education, and improvement of hygiene conditions are recommended.

Partial Text: It is estimated that more than one billion of the world’s population is chronically infected with soil-transmitted helminths, and 200 million are infected with schistosomiasis [1]. The high prevalence of these infections is closely correlated with poverty, poor environmental hygiene, and impoverished health services [1],[2]. Parasitic helminths are known causes of morbidities such as nutritional deficiency [3], impaired physical development and learning ability [4], and socioeconomic deprivations in populations living in the tropics where poor hygiene conditions provide an optimal environment for their development and transmission [5]–[7]. In many parts of the developing world, children are reported to have an intestinal helminth infection prevalence rate ranging between 50% and 80% [8],[9]. Although several studies indicate that intestinal helminth infections are highly prevalent among schoolchildren in Ogun State, Nigeria [10]–[13], there is no reported statewide prevalence for intestinal helminths except for ascariasis [13]. Also there are no available data about the demography and hygiene conditions of the state’s schools to help guide the development of school health programmes, which are a requirement for sustainable control of soil-transmitted helminths in schoolchildren [14].

This survey investigated demography, helminthiasis, and sanitary conditions in three primary schools of different ownership and social settings in Ikenne LGA of Ogun State, Nigeria. The study shows clearly that the burden of parasitic infections in schoolchildren and poor sanitary conditions of the urban and rural schools owned by the government constitute a public health priority. It strongly supports the need for school health programmes aimed at reducing the prevalence of helminth infections in schoolchildren and improving the sanitation conditions in and around the schools. The demographic data, however, indicated that the proportion of schoolchildren benefiting from a school health programme would decline with increasing grade-level and that female children would be increasingly disadvantaged in government-owned schools.



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