Water, sanitation, and hygiene factors associated with child illness in Tanzania

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Water, sanitation, and hygiene factors associated with child illness in Tanzania

Abstract

Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) are critical to ensuring health and preventing disease in Tanzania where approximately one-third of childhood deaths are related to poor hygiene. This study explored associations between WASH practices and childhood illness. Data came from a cross-sectional survey of 5000 female caregivers living in the Lake Zone region of Tanzania. Measures included self-reported presence of fever, diarrhea, cough and various WASH factors. Multiple logistic regressions were used. Thirty-seven percent of children experienced fever, 26% diarrhea, and 11% cough in the previous two weeks. Unimproved toilets were positively associated with fever (OR 1.25, CI 1.03 - 1.53, p < 0.05) and animal enclosures were negatively associated with diarrhea (OR 0.76, CI 0.61 - 0.96, p < 0.05). Unsafe disposal of a child’s stool was associated with both fever (OR 0.77, CI 0.67 - 0.89, p < 0.05) and diarrhea (OR 1.18, CI 1.0 - 1.38, p < 0.05). Eating soil was associated with both fever (OR 2.02, CI 1.79 - 2.29, p < 0.05) and diarrhea (OR 2.23, CI 1.95 - 2.57, p < 0.05). Eating chicken feces was associated with both fever (OR 2.07, CI 1.66 - 2.58, p < 0.05) and diarrhea (OR 2.38, CI 1.9 - 2.98, p < 0.05). Water shortages were associated with fever (OR 1.21, CI 1.07 - 1.36, p < 0.05) and cough (OR 1.48, CI 1.22 - 1.81, p < 0.05). Policy makers and program designers should consider increasing access to water and sanitation to improve children’s health.

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