Impact of a national deworming campaign on the prevalence of soil-transmitted helminthiasis in Uganda (2004-2016): Implications for national control programs
Background: Soil-transmitted Helminths and Anemia potentially reduce and retard cognitive and physical growth in school-age children with great implications for national control programs in Africa. After years of deworming programs, a study was undertaken to evaluate the impact of a national deworming campaign on the prevalence and intensity of soil-transmitted helminthic infections in school-age children in Uganda.
Methodology: A descriptive and cross-sectional study was carried out in five regions of Uganda, where two districts were randomly selected per region based on the ecological zones in the country and included; Nakapiripirit and Kotido from Karamoja; Arua and Yumbe from West Nile; Gulu and Alebtong from the North; Kaliro and Mbale from the East; Hoima and Bundibugyo in the West. From each district, a total of five schools and 50 children aged 6–14 years were randomly selected and tested and examined for the presence of Helminthic infections. A short pretested questionnaire was administered to each participant to obtain their knowledge, attitudes, and practices relating to infection and control of soil-transmittedhelminths and general observations were made on the sanitations of their environments. The locations of each site assessed were geo referenced using a GPS machine (GarminGPSMAP62, Garmin Ltd, Southhampton, UK).
Results: Overall data were collected from a total of 4,275 children including 719(16.8%) from central region, 718(16.8%) from eastern region, 719 (16.8%) from northern region, 689 (18.1%) from Karamoja region, 717(16.7%) from West Nile region and 723(16.9%) from western region. The mean age of the children was 12.6 years (standard deviation, SD 1.8 years) and the age range was 6 to 12 years. The percentage of boys (50.2%) and girls (49.9%) was comparable. 8.8% (95% CI; 8.0–9.7) were infected with at least any one STH species. Hookworm was the most prevalent STH species (7.7%; 95% CI; 6.9–8.5) followed by whipworms (Trichuris trichiura) (1.3%; 95% CI; 1.0–1.7) and roundworms (Ascaris lumbricoides) (0.5%; 95% CI; 0.3–0.7) and 13.0% (95% CI; 12.0–14.0) S.mansoni. Our findings show that all the children interviewed knew what soil transmitted helminths were (100%, 95% CI: 0.613–0.642) and most common source of information were; home (100, 95% CI: 0.371–0.408), media (radio& newspaper)(100%, 95% CI: 0.098–0.122), school(100%, 95% CI: 0.639–0.675) and friends(100%, 95% CI: 0.103–0.127). Majority of the study participants interviewed were aware of how one gets infected with soil-transmittedhelminths through; eating contaminated food (56.3%, 95% CI: 0.760–0.791), walking barefoot (62.7%, 95% CI: 0.578–0.615), drinking contaminated water (65.4%, 95% CI: 0.510–0.548), playing in dirty places (82.1%, 95% CI: 0.202–0.233) and dirty hands (97.8%, 95% CI: 0.017–0.029).
Conclusion: Routine deworming worming campaigns have proved effective in reducing helminthic infections in Uganda and regular evaluations not only project the impact of deworming interventions and efforts have had but also reduce helminthic morbidity and improve child development.