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Research Article Open Access
Background: Schistosomiasis infection is among the neglected tropical diseases seen in Sub-Saharan Africa causing acute and chronic infection by the trematode worms. Paddy farming and livestock keeping are major economic activities in Africa. Information is lacking on this target groups’ relationship to schistosomiasis infection. The aim was to assess the awareness of schistosomiasis transmission, complications, and protective measures among pad cultivators.
Methods: A community based cross-sectional study done at Samuye, Singita and Manyada villages in Samuye ward, Shinyanga rural district, in the North West parts of Tanzania was conducted from September 2013 to January 2014. Subjects aged 10 years and above involved in paddy cultivation and livestock keeping were included. Three villages from Samuye district were randomly selected and interviews were done using structured questionnaires. Data obtained was analyzed using SPSS version 17.0 together with a series of tabulations.
Results: Of the 350 respondents enrolled in the study, 70.5% (247/350) endorsed awareness of schistosomiasis infection, most of which 86.9% (304/350) had completed primary education. Over 50% endorsed previously suffering from schistosomiasis, males being more affected than females, 57.7% (188/350) vs. 42.3% (162/350), respectively. Majority of previously infected subjects, 72.8% (131/180), opted for herbal remedies as compared to 22.8% (41/180) seeking hospital care. Nearly all subjects, 93.5% (231/247), lacked awareness of preventive options.
Conclusion: Schistosomiasis is one of the neglected tropical diseases, with significant knowledge gap among paddy cultivators in Samuye ward in disease treatment, complications and prevention in this high-risk group. Governmental emphasis on increasing awareness, education, and availability of prophylactic drugs to this high-risk group could prevent rates of transmission and establish infection control. Improving knowledge on schistosomiasis in this high-risk group would likely reduce disease burden significantly.
Schistosomiasis, Neglected diseases, Bilharzias, Paddy cultivation, Tanzania, Complementary Medicine, Alternative Medicine