Knowledge, attitude, and practices on intestinal schistosomiasis among primary schoolchildren in the Lake Victoria basin, Rorya District, north-western Tanzania
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Background: Globally school-age children, adolescents and young adults bear the highest burden of schistosomiasis. When developing a specific intervention to improve community’s knowledge, attitudes, and practices (KAPs), existing KAPs must be taken into account. Therefore, this study was designed to determine schoolchildren’s KAPs on schistosomiasis in the study area. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in Busanga and Kibuyi villages involving 513 schoolchildren. A pre-tested questionnaire was used to collect socio-demographic data and to assess KAP on schistosomiasis among primary schoolchildren in the study area. Results: Of the 488 interviewed children, 391 (80.12%) reported to have heard of schistosomiasis, with the majority 289 (73.91%) citing school as the source of this knowledge. Swimming in the lake, worms, witchcraft, and mosquitoes were mentioned to be the cause for intestinal schistosomiasis. Fishing in the lake, drinking unboiled lake water, walking bare footed, and shaking hands were reported to be practices that may lead to contracting schistosomiasis. Only 156 (39.90%) of the study respondents reported to know the signs of intestinal schistosomiasis. Avoiding swimming in the lake, drinking unboiled water and eating unwashed fruits were mentioned as preventive measures. Nearly 85% (412) reported understanding that there was a disease known as schistosomiasis; additionally, 419 (85.86%) considered schistosomiasis as a dangerous disease and 418 (85.66%) believed that schistosomiasis was treatable. Fishermen and schoolchildren were reported to be groups most at risk of schistosomiasis infection. Visiting the lake (for swimming and other gatherings) was a common practice among study participants 471 (96.52%).Nearly 93% (451) of participants mentioned using lake water for domestic chores, and, although 407 (84.61%) reported to own a toilet at home, only 229 (55.31%) reported to always use a toilet for sanitation purposes. Conclusion and recommendation: Despite a high rate of awareness among schoolchildren regarding schistosomiasis, there was a persistent gap amongst the children regarding the causes, modes of transmission, symptoms, and preventive measures for the disease. Therefore, an appropriate health education intervention is needed in order to inculcate better knowledge, attitudes, and practices amongst schoolchildren regarding its transmission, control, and prevention as part of a successful schistosomiasis campaign.