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Geohelminths in School Children

Prevalence and Risk Factors of Geohelminths in School Children in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State




1.1.   Background to the study

Geohelminths or soil-transmitted helminths, form one of the most important groups of infectious agents and are the cause of serious global health problems; more than a billion people are currently infected by at least one species of this group of pathogens and are common infectious diseases of childhood in tropical regions (WHO; 2005). Geohelminth infections are considered to cause considerable morbidity in endemic areas through effects on growth, nutrition and cognition disturbing school performance (Beasley et al., 2000). At a global level, the most important geohelminths are roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides), whipworms (Trichuris trichiura), and hookworms (Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale). It is estimated that these above named parasites have infected 1.2 billion people, 800 million people, and 740 million people respectively (WHO; 2005). In Brazil only it is estimated that 41.7 million people are infected with A. lumbricoides, and 18.9 million with T. trichiura while 32.3 million are infected with hookworms. (Beasley et al., 2000).

Geohelminths are more frequently found among children living in poor sanitary conditions, and their influence on morbidity and mortality is more severe on the malnourished populations (Crompton, 1993). Most studies suggest that approximately 70% of the worm population is hosted by 15% of the human host population. These few heavily infected individuals are at a higher risk of disease and are also the prime source of environmental contamination (Despommier et al., 2005). Insufficient hygiene, pitiable health care systems and facilities and social unresponsiveness make this condition worse. Nevertheless, geohelminth control is frequently ignored, especially in highly worm-infested nations.

Geohelminths usually contaminate the host. Mainly children living in underprivileged environments from less-developed areas may be continually infected with more than one worm (Betohony et al.,2006). Such children have increased risks of mental retardation, malnutrition, stunted growth, and cognitive as well as learning deficiencies (WHO,2005).

Large-scale environmental sanitation programs are compound, this makes interventions straightforwardly aimed at the transmission of geohelminths a challenge (Ezeagwuna et al., 2009). These interventions directly affect the transmission of several diseases in both the public and private domains (Jackson et al.,2004). Some factors should be considered for such an intervention to succeed. Examples are public investment in sewerage networks which must be matched by individual households’ willingness to invest in a toilet and connect it to this network. Rare are studies of the health effects of sanitation intervention programs in large cities of developing nations. Widespread program of environmental sanitation was conducted in the Brazilian city of Salvador in Bahia; it was aimed at expanding the city’s sanitation network from 26% to 80%. A marked reduction in the rate of childhood diarrhoea has already been reported since the sanitation intervention program (Ezeagwuna et al., 2009). In this study, our aim was to report the impact of this environmental sanitation program on the prevalence and incidence of geohelminths among school aged 7–14 years. 

1.2. Aims and Objective

The aims and objective of this project include the following:

  • To investigate as well as determine the prevalence and risk factors of geohelminth infections among school children in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Nigeria.
  • To assist in health policy formulation for the government and Non-governmental organizations.
  • To create awareness on the need for good hygiene and sanitation among children.

1.3. Justification:

As a resident of a rural community where portable water is a luxury and defecating in the bush is seen as the norm and ‘manure addition’. Having known that during rainy season, there is usually a run-off from the bushes into the fields and other places which is normally used as playground for children in the community which may result to high incidence of diarrhea and dysentery among these children. It became inspiring for me to carry out a survey on the geohelminths behind these conditions among children, hence the prevalence and Risk Factors of Geohelminths in School Children in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State.

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Topic: Prevalence and Risk Factors of Geohelminths in School Children in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State

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