BOARDING SCHOOL: A SIMPLE APPROACH TO REDUCE SOIL TRANSMITTED HELMINTH INFECTIONS IN ORANG ASLI CHILDREN OF SUNGAI SIPUT, PERAK, 2017
Soil transmitted helminth (STH) infection is a major public health concern among the indigenous children of Malaysia. Precarious living conditions at home including unavailability of water, drinking of contaminated water, poor sanitation and livestock presence, are known risk factors for the infection. In order to provide better living conditions, these children are enrolled in boarding schools. This study was conducted to determine whether boarding schools is a solution in reducing soil transmitted helminth infection among Orang Asli children in Sg Siput, Perak, Malaysia. An analytical cross-sectional study was conducted among 204 schoolchildren aged 7-17 years from three boarding schools in Sungai Siput, Perak from January to March 2017. Stool samples were collected and examined using direct smear and Kato-Katz technique. Information on sociodemographic and environmental conditions were collected using a modified Demographic Health Survey (DHS) questionnaire. Data analysis was done using IBM SPSS Statistics Processor 20.0.Out of a total of 204 children, only 48% (n= 97) were infected with at least one type of STH species which showed a reduced prevalence as compared to previous studies conducted among home dwelling schoolchildren with overall prevalence of 78-97%. Majority of the children had monoparasitism (31%; n=63) with moderate intensity by T trichuira (n=51, 25%). Univariate analysis shows that unavailability of water at home has a statistically significant association with STH infection among boarding school children (OR=0.73; 95% CI= 0.56-0.95 p=0.021). Multivariate analysis proves children who had unavailability of water at home has 2.1 times more likelihood of getting an STH infection (OR= 2.08; 95%CI= 1.07-4.07; p= 0.032).This study demonstrates a reduced STH prevalence among Orang Asli boarding school children as better living condition there limits the spread of STH infection among them.
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