Original Research

Knowledge and perceptions about schistosomiasis among primary school children and teachers in rural KwaZulu-Natal

Edmore Mazani, Myra Taylor, Eyrun F. Kjetland, Patricia D. Ndhlovu
Southern African Journal of Infectious Diseases | Vol 35, No 1 | a126 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajid.v35i1.126 | © 2020 Edmore Mazani, Myra Taylor, Eyrun F. Kjetland, Patricia D. Ndhlovu | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 29 May 2019 | Published: 06 July 2020

About the author(s)

Edmore Mazani, Department of Public Health Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Myra Taylor, Department of Public Health Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
Eyrun F. Kjetland, Department of Infectious Diseases, Norwegian Centre for Imported and Tropical Diseases, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
Patricia D. Ndhlovu, Department of Infectious Diseases, Faculty of Health Sciences, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom


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Abstract

Background: Schistosomiasis is a disease caused by parasitic trematode worms of the genus Schistosoma. In 2014, over 258 million people worldwide required treatment for the disease. Schistosomiasis is known to be prevalent in the northern region of KwaZulu-Natal province of South Africa, especially among school-going children but less is known about their knowledge of the disease and their attitude towards being treated for the disease at school.

Methods: The study was a descriptive and analytical cross-sectional survey conducted through self-administered questionnaires among grades 5 and 7 learners from 10 randomly selected rural primary schools in iLembe and uThungulu, KwaZulu-Natal. Teachers from the same schools participated during the same period.

Results: A total of 730 learners and 78 teachers took part in the study. Among the learners, 73.2% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 69.7% – 76.4%) correctly identified freshwater contact as a risk for schistosomiasis, but only 42.7% (95% CI: 38.8% – 46.8%) knew how to prevent it. Among the teachers, 96.8% (95% CI: 87.8% – 99.4%) knew the risk and 69.0% (95% CI: 55.3%– 80.1%) knew the prevention of schistosomiasis. Almost 70% (95% CI: 65.9% – 72.8%) of the learners and 67.6% (95% CI: 42.1% – 65.6%) of the teachers reported their willingness to receive treatment with praziquantel at school.

Conclusion: This study showed that basic knowledge about the risk of schistosomiasis among the participants was high, but the cause and prevention of the disease were less well understood. There is need to include schistosomiasis in health education both at school and through community awareness programmes.


Keywords

urinary schistosomiasis; knowledge; perceptions; mass drug administration; praziquantel.

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