Impact of Tungiasis on school age children in Muranga county, Kenya.
Background: Tungiasis is a parasitic tropical disease caused by female Tunga penetrans which causes different health disabilities. The objective of this study was to estimate the burden of disease and find out the impact of Tungiasis on acquisition of basic education among children aged 5 to 14 years. This was done by quantifying loss of health caused by the disease using Disability Adjusted Life Years metric and also determining the influence of disabilities caused by Tungiasis on children school absenteeism and retention. Methodology: A cross-sectional descriptive research design in which 200 households were systematically randomly selected. From each household a maximum of two children aged 5- 14 years were recruited adding to a total of 384 children. Data on mortality were collected through verbal autopsy and desk top review of medical records. Morbidity was determined by physical examination of the children and sequelae reported by the children, parents and teachers. Primary and secondary data were collected through questionnaires, interviews, observations and desk review. School attendance was determined from the attendance registers. Data analysis was carried out using Statistical Package for Social Sciences version 21 software. Correlations and regression tests, Wald chi square test were carried out in addition to descriptive statistics. Results: A total of 347 children aged between 5-14 years participated in the study. Prevalence of Tungiasis at household level was 37% (74 households) while among children the prevalence was 44 % (153). It was shown that children who were aged below 11 years who had a prevalence of 37% were more vulnerable to Tungiasis at p= 0.048. A total of 0.3 Disability Adjusted live years were lost due to Mild Tungiasis while 2.51 Disability Adjusted Life Years were lost due to severe Tungiasis. There was zero mortality due to Tungiasis among the children aged 5-14 years. This study found that children suffering from Tungiasis were likely to repeat same class even more than one time (p= 0.007). Tungiasis status was xv found to influence negatively the ability of children to attend school at p= 0.001. Severe Tungiasis caused greater loss of health 8.4 times more than loss of health resulting from mild condition of the disease. Conclusion: Tungiasis is highly prevalent among the children aged between 5-14 years in endemic areas. Acquisition of basic education can be improved by addressing and managing Tungiasis which would promote school attendance and retention. In order to reduce burden of disease caused by Tungiasis the health care providers should adopt effective and sustainable disease management measures.
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