Some social determinants of urinary schistosomiasis in Northern Cameroon : implications for schistosomiasis control
The present study was designed to assess the perceptions of hematuria, the most conspicuous sign of urinary schistosomiasis, in selected communities of the sudano-sahelian zone of Cameroon. Study questionnaires related to knowledge, beliefs and stigma associated with hematuria were administered to 964 pupils from 15 randomly selected schools. In order to ascertain children perceptions, we interviewed 143 adults living less than 2 kilometers from the target school. School children provided urine samples that were examined using the dip stick and sedimentation methods. Exposure to sun was the most reported cause of hematuria (53% adult and 62% children respondents), followed by drinking of dirty water (18% adults and 41% children). Only 15% of adult and 26% school children could relate hematuria to wading, a common means of exposure to urinary schistosomiasis. More than half of the school children stated that hematuria was a sign of disease (56%). Few pupils perceived hematuria to be a sign of strength (6%), while others related it to puberty (30%). Most pupils (80%) reported that hematuria was preventable while others (20%) ascribed it to witchcraft. Pupils reported that hematuria could be cured in the hospital (65%), by the traditional healer (21%), or by reading Holy Scriptures (14%). Some respondents (35% of adult, and 40% of school children) stated that it was shameful to have blood in urine. Almost half of the adult respondents and 26% of the school children reported that hematuria was contagious. Boys and girls had similar levels of oviuria (OR=0.79 p>0.05), but boys were 4 times more likely to report hematuria (OR=3.62, p<0.001). There was a poor understanding of the means of exposure, transmission and treatment of hematuria. Some aspects of the perceptions of hematuria reported herein corroborate with previous studies carried out in Cameroon, Niger, Ghana, Kenya and Tanzania. They should be considered, together with other socioeconomic and cultural determinants in the design of educational messages applicable to the study region.
African Journal of Health Sciences Vol. 11(3-4) 2004: 111-120