Factors associated with dietary iron intake and prevalence of anaemia among women aged 15-45 years in Garissa District, Kenya
A cross sectional study with an analytical component was conducted in Garissa district to identify the effect of some important factors associated with anaemia among women of childbearing age (15-45 years) in Garissa District. ;\ sample of 218 households in six randomly selected sub-locations in Carissa District was used. A questionnaire was administered to gather information on demographic characteristics. socio economic status. water, sanitation and hygiene. morbidity. and food consumption patterns. Blood samples of 109 women were analysed for haemoglobin concentration and examined for malaria parasites while stool samples, were examined for helminth and other intestinal parasites to facilitate determination on the effect of parasitic infection on the anaemia status. The study shows a high prevalence of anaemia among women of childbearing age living in Garissa District. The prevalence of anaemia was high. nearly all the women (88.1 %. n=109) who were screened were anaemic. But it was even higher among the rural than in the urban group. More than half (61.5%. n=109) of the studied population who were anaemic were from the rural group. Compared to the current national prevalence. the prevalence of anaemia in Garissa District proved to be among the highest in the whole country. Education level of the mothers showed no association anaemia status of the studied population. In fact the study showed that literate women had higher prevalence of anaemia compared to the non-literate. Slightly over a fifth of the women (22%. N=218). mostly from the rural group used multivitamins as a complementary source of iron. while slightly over a quarter used iron tablets as a complementary source to dietary iron. The study established an association between the consumption of food of poor iron content and the use of non-dietary iron source (P=0.05), odd ratio= 1.56 (C.I=I.34-1.82). This means that those taking foods poor in iron are more likely to consume non-dietary iron supplements than those taking iron rich foods. Higher consumption of fruits, vegetables. cereals and legumes did not significantly increase Hb level and subsequently did not have an impact on anaemia status. The macronutrients and micronutrients from the daily consumption among both the urban and the rural women did not increase the Hb level and hence had no impact on the anaemia status. More than a quarter (26%, n= I09) of the studied women had malaria parasites. The presence of malaria parasite can be associated with high level of prevalence of anaemia among women of childbearing age. There was a highly significant association between the malaria parasite infestation and the prevalence of anaemia both in the urban and the rural women (P=O.05). Deworming programmes should be emphasized at the individual and communitv level. people should be taught personal and environmental hygiene through health education. washing hands before handling food. after using the toilet and cooking the meat thoroughly in order to kill the cysts. Health personal should provide routine health education ill Mother and Child Health centres and community meetings on the subject of personal and environmental hygiene. They should emphasize the importance of hygiene by use of Information Education and Communication materials such as role-plays and posters. Health and nutrition education should be given in Barazas (chiefs meetings) and should encourage the community to grown vegetables and fruits. In addition. sanitation should be encouraged within these forums. To prevent malaria and parasitic infestation. improving community awareness should also be emphasized within the existing health facility programs Mother and Child Health centres in the district. Non Governmental Organizations and Ministry of Health should implement mosquito (malaria) control programs along the bank of Tana River with community participation. Distribution of treated bed nets should be widened in the area other than provision to those who attend Mother and Child Health centres. Given the high level of poverty. income generation program ainung at empowenng women to Improve their economic status should be introduced to improve the overall nutritional status including the anaemia situation considering the strong Somali social network.