Schistosoma mansoni Infections, Undernutrition and Anaemia among Primary Schoolchildren in Two Onshore Villages in Rorya District, North-Western Tanzania
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Background Undernutrition and anaemia remains to be a major public health problem in many developing countries, where they mostly affect children. Intestinal parasitic infections are known to affect both growth and haemoglobin levels. Much has been reported on the impact of geohelminths on anaemia and undernutrition, leaving that of Schistosoma mansoni not well studied. Therefore this study intended to determine the association between S.mansoni infections, anaemia and undernutrition among schoolchildren in Rorya district, Northwestern Tanzania. Methodology A cross-sectional study was carried among schoolchildren in two onshore villages namely Busanga and Kibuyi in Rorya district. Single stool specimens were collected from 513 randomly selected schoolchildren and processed for microscopic examination using the Kato- Katz method. Nutritional status was determined by anthropometry. Blood samples were also collected and examined for malaria parasites and haemoglobin levels using the Giemsa stain and HaemoCue methods, respectively. A pretested questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic data and associated factors. Results The prevalence of S. mansoni infection and malaria was 84.02% and 9.16%, respectively. Other parasites found were Ascaris lumbricoides (1.36%) and Hookworm (1.36%). The prevalence of stunting and wasting was 38.21% and 14.42%, respectively. The prevalence of anaemia was 29.43%, whereby 0.58% had severe anaemia. S. mansoni infection was not found to be associated with undernutrition or anaemia (p>0.05). The risk of stunting and wasting increased with increasing age (p<0.001). Anaemia was associated with age, sex and village of residence (p<0.05). Conclusions S.mansoni, undernutrition and anaemia are highly prevalent in the study area. The observed rates of undernutrition and anaemia were seen not to be associated with S.mansoni infection suggesting possibly being a result of poor dietary nutrients. This study suggests that policy makers should consider Rorya district for inclusion into national schistosomiasis control and school feeding programmes.