A research by the Ministry of Health and Child Care has revealed that mothers and pre-school children have a high risk of schistosomiasis infection, 263Chat has learnt.
Schistosomiasis is a major public health problem in many tropical and sub-tropical regions, particularly found among people living in communities that are generally poor with inadequate or no safe water and sanitary facilities.
Pre-school aged children and women are at risk of schistosomiasis as they may lead to morbidity due to infections such as Female genital schistosomiasis, stunted growth and haematuria.
In an interview with Masceline Mutsaka from the department of Research at the University of Zimbabwe, said the study aimed to determine the prevalence of schistosomiasis in care givers and their children.
“Pre-school aged children are too young to engage in water contact activities on their own. Evidence shows they are regularly exposed to schistosome infection by their care givers (or sometimes their older siblings) who take them to fresh water sources or use water from these sources for bathing (Macklin et al; 2018; Ekpo et al 2012),” said Mutsaka.
However, there is a paucity of data on knowledge, perceptions, water contact and sanitary practices of women which can be the risk factors predisposing pre-school aged children and themselves to schistosomiasis infection in endemic areas.
The study determined if the care givers’ water contact practices, knowledge and perceptions are risk factors predisposing them and pre-school aged children to schistosomiasis infection in Madziwa area.
“Overally, the care givers generally had a low knowledge of schistosomiasis prevention and control, enabling sustained infection and transmission in such high-risk communities,” said Mutsaka.
This result in exposing pre-school aged children, unknowingly, to infection through water contact activities such as allowing them to play or perform activities in the unprotected water while the care giver is bathing or washing clothes.
“Adult women in endemic communities should be included in the design, implementation and evaluation of schistosomiasis control programmes in view of their important role as care givers and as main house hold users of water from non-safe sources,” she added.