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Background: The sanitary state of the environment and general hygiene has long been known to play a critical role in the cause and spread of infectious diseases, be it directly or indirectly.
Objective: This study was aimed at exploring the implications of some WASH practices on the prevalence of malaria infection among school children in Gombe State, Nigeria.
Methodology: A cross sectional survey design was employed to study 745 school children (aged 6 to 15 years) who were selected using a multi-stage sampling technique from 12 public and 6 private schools in six Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the State. Rapid Diagnostic Test (RDT) was used to screen the children for malaria. Descriptive statistics were generated to summarize research findings while chi square statistics was used to compare proportions at 0.05 significance levels. Risks were estimated using odd ratio (OR).
Results: The mean age of the pupils was 9.96±2.26 years and slightly more than half (50.9%) of them were males while the rest (49.1%) were females. Out of the 745 subjects only 101 (13.6%) tested positive for malaria. And even though, 86.4% of them indicated availability of toilets in their residences, not all (98.6%) of them used the toilets. Slightly more than half (51.5%) of the participants dwell in houses without proper drainage while 46.7% reside in mud houses. Children from households without toilets had more than five times odds of having malaria (OR=5.230; 95% CI= 3.236-8.453, P=0.000). Furthermore, children from households that were sourcing their drinking water from streams, rivers and wells suffered more from malaria than those using portable/pipe borne water (OR=0.230, CI= 0.131-0.405, p=0.000). While children who dwelt in cement houses had less odds of malaria infection (OR=0.270, 95% CI=0.169-0.431, P=0.000), those who dwelt in houses without drainages had more than twice odds of malaria infection (OR=2.642, 95% CI= 1.671- 4.176). Again, proper waste disposal was associated with lower odds of malaria infection.
Conclusion: The findings of this study suggests the existence of association between selected WASH practices and malaria prevalence among the school children. This should inform an integrated WASH and malaria advocacy as well as high level engagement with concerned authorities and communities.
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