Media access is associated with knowledge of optimal water, sanitation, and hygiene practices in Tanzania

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Media access is associated with knowledge of optimal water, sanitation, and hygiene practices in Tanzania

Abstract

The importance of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) behaviors in low- and middle-income countries in preventing childhood illness is well established. Tanzania is known to have high rates of chronic malnutrition and childhood stunting—both of which have been linked to poor WASH practices. Interviews were conducted with 5000 primary caregivers of children aged 0–23 months. Four composite WASH knowledge variables were created to assess the relationship between WASH knowledge and access to different forms of media, such as television, radio, and mobile phones. WASH knowledge variables measure knowledge of when to wash hands, the need for soap when washing hands, when to wash a baby’s hands, and how eating soil or chicken feces can affect a baby’s health. Logistic and linear regression analyses were conducted to measure the association between media access and WASH knowledge. Having watched television was positively associated with higher WASH knowledge indicators (all p < 0.05). Higher WASH knowledge was positively associated with more frequent handwashing after cleaning a baby’s bottom (all p < 0.0001). The quantity of media access also had a positive linear effect on handwashing; more media items owned was associated with increases in handwashing. Study findings indicate media access is associated with WASH knowledge among caregivers in resource-poor settings.

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