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      Low Levels of Awareness Despite High Prevalence of Schistosomiasis among Communities in Nyalenda Informal Settlement, Kisumu City, Western Kenya


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          Intestinal schistosomiasis is widely distributed around Lake Victoria in Kenya where about 16 million people in 56 districts are at risk of the infection with over 9.1 million infected. Its existence in rural settings has been extensively studied compared to urban settings where there is limited information about the disease coupled with low level of awareness. This study therefore assessed community awareness on existence, signs and symptoms, causes, transmission, control and risk factors for contracting schistosomiasis as well as attitudes, health seeking behaviour and environmental antecedents that affect its control so as to identify knowledge gaps that need to be addressed in order to strengthen schistosomiasis control interventions in informal urban settings.


          The study was carried out in an informal urban settlement where the prevalence of intestinal schistosomiasis was previously reported to be the highest (36%) among the eight informal settlements of Kisumu city. The study adopted cross-sectional design and purposive sampling technique. Eight focus group discussions were conducted with adult community members and eight key informant interviews with opinion leaders. Data was audio recorded transcribed, coded and thematically analyzed using ATLAS.ti version 6 software.


          Most respondents stated having heard about schistosomiasis but very few had the correct knowledge of signs and symptoms, causes, transmission and control of schistosomiasis. However, there was moderate knowledge of risk factors and at high risk groups. Their attitudes towards schistosomiasis and its control were generally indifferent with a general belief that they had no control over their environmental circumstances to reduce transmission.


          Although schistosomiasis was prevalent in the study area, majority of the people in the community had low awareness. This study, therefore, stresses the need for health education to raise community's awareness on schistosomiasis in such settings in order to augment prevention, control and elimination efforts.

          Author Summary

          Bilharzia also known as schistosomiasis is one of the neglected tropical diseases found in western part of Kenya. The major source of infection is Lake Victoria; however, there is evidence of inland transmission especially within the informal settlements of Kisumu city. Schistosomiasis can be controlled using three key approaches which include improved sanitation, health education and mass treatment with praziquantel. Additional interventions for infection prevention include: promotion of hygiene, access to safe water, and sanitation improvement and environmental management. However, the success of control initiatives involving the community depend on the level of the communities' uptake of the program, which is hinged upon understanding the community knowledge and practices towards the disease. This study therefore collected information from the community to assess level of awareness of schistosomiasis. The findings revealed a low level of awareness in spite of a high prevalence of schistosomiasis. These findings are invaluable in the designing of appropriate education messages targeted at raising community awareness on schistosomiasis and relevant behavioural change required for a successful control programme.

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          Most cited references25

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          Schistosomiasis and water resources development: systematic review, meta-analysis, and estimates of people at risk.

          An estimated 779 million people are at risk of schistosomiasis, of whom 106 million (13.6%) live in irrigation schemes or in close proximity to large dam reservoirs. We identified 58 studies that examined the relation between water resources development projects and schistosomiasis, primarily in African settings. We present a systematic literature review and meta-analysis with the following objectives: (1) to update at-risk populations of schistosomiasis and number of people infected in endemic countries, and (2) to quantify the risk of water resources development and management on schistosomiasis. Using 35 datasets from 24 African studies, our meta-analysis showed pooled random risk ratios of 2.4 and 2.6 for urinary and intestinal schistosomiasis, respectively, among people living adjacent to dam reservoirs. The risk ratio estimate for studies evaluating the effect of irrigation on urinary schistosomiasis was in the range 0.02-7.3 (summary estimate 1.1) and that on intestinal schistosomiasis in the range 0.49-23.0 (summary estimate 4.7). Geographic stratification showed important spatial differences, idiosyncratic to the type of water resources development. We conclude that the development and management of water resources is an important risk factor for schistosomiasis, and hence strategies to mitigate negative effects should become integral parts in the planning, implementation, and operation of future water projects.
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            Epidemiology and geography of Schistosoma mansoni in Uganda: implications for planning control.

            Intestinal schistosomiasis caused by infection with Schistosoma mansoni is a widespread public health problem in Uganda. Although long known to be endemic, its current distribution within the country requires updating of parasitological data to help guide planned control. We report such data collected between 1998 and 2002 from 201 schools and 68 communities across Uganda. In accordance with epidemiological expectation, prevalence and intensity increased with age, peaking at 10-20 years and thereafter declined moderately with age, whereas intensity declined more rapidly with age, and the prevalence of infection in a school was non-linearly related to the mean intensity of infection. We used geographical information systems to map the distribution of infection and to overlay parasitological data with interpolated environmental surfaces. The derived maps indicate both a widespread occurrence of infection and a marked variability in infection prevalence, with prevalence typically highest near the lakeshore and along large rivers. No transmission occurred at altitudes >1400 m or where total annual rainfall was <900 mm; limits which can help estimate the population at risk of schistosomiasis. The results are discussed in reference to the ecology of infection and provide an epidemiological framework for the design and implementation of control efforts underway in Uganda.
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              Distance and the utilization of health facilities in rural Nigeria.

              The distance patients must travel in order to obtain treatment has long been recognized as a primary determinant of the utilization of health care facilities. The distance factor is especially significant in rural Third World settings where the density of Western-type health facilities is often low, where the majority of patients are likely to make the journey for treatment as pedestrians and where there are viable and usually more accessible alternate sources of medicine. This study examines the impact of distance on the utilization of health care facilities in the Hadejia area of Kano State, Nigeria. Per capita utilization was found to decline exponentially with distance. The rate of distance decay in utilization levels varies according to the type of facility, socio-demographic variables and illness. Hausa perceptions about sickness and about specific illnesses are reflected in the varying incidence of health facility utilization in the treatment of particular illnesses and distance decay gradients of varying steepness. Although the per capita consumption of health care decreases exponentially for concentric distance bands, individual villages show great disparities in utilization rates which are only partly attributable to distance.

                Author and article information

                Role: Editor
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Negl Trop Dis
                PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases
                Public Library of Science (San Francisco, USA )
                April 2014
                3 April 2014
                : 8
                : 4
                [1 ]Centre for Global Health Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kisumu, Kenya
                [2 ]School of Public Health and Community Development, Maseno University, Maseno, Kenya
                [3 ]ContextFACTOR Solutions, Nairobi, Kenya
                Ministry of Health, Uganda
                Author notes

                The authors have declared that no competing interest exist.

                Conceived and designed the experiments: GOO MRO JAA PNMM ROO. Performed the experiments: GOO RMM VOA ETM. Analyzed the data: GOO. Contributed reagents/materials/analysis tools: GOO MRO JAA PNMM. Wrote the paper: GOO. Helped in the transcription of data: GOO RMM VOA ETM. Supervised the entire work: PNMM MRO JAA ROO. Reviewed the manuscript and contributed insight: GOO RMM VOA ETM MRO ROO JAA PNMM.


                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                Page count
                Pages: 8
                The study was supported by The European Foundations Initiative for Neglected Tropical Diseases (EFINTD) grant # I/85 041 to PNMM. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Research Article
                Social Sciences

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                Infectious disease & Microbiology


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