Health problems of street children and women in Awassa, Southern Ethiopia
AbstractBackground: The number of street children and women in major towns of Ethiopia is rapidly increasing. Yet their problems have not been fully studied.
Objective: To assess health and related problems in street children and women.
Methods: A cross sectional survey was conducted in Awassa town, women southern Ethiopia in December 1999. Data was collected using a uniform questionnaire. The respondents were interviewed by trained health workers in purposively selected nine data collection sites for one week. The data was processed using Epi Info version 6 statistical package computer software.
Results: A total of 506 street children and women participated in the study. A considerable proportion (63.0%) of respondents had daily income of less than four birr, all women being included in this category of income, and 15% of them had an income of less than two birr. Two hundred forty one (47.6%) of the respondents reported that they have had meals as available. Two hundred seventy eight (58.0%) of the children were homeless. Two hundred eighty (55.3%) of the street children reported one or more previous health problems. Malaria-like febrile illnesses (42.6%) followed by respiratory tract illnesses (33.1%) and diarrhoeal diseases (4.5%) were the major health problems reported. The majority of them attended government health care facilities to the reported health problems. About half of the children reported that they used one or more of the habit-forming substances (alcoholic drinks, chat and cigarette). Among street children above 15 years old and women, only 22.8% used family planning and prevention methods for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). The majority (55.7%) of street children and women did not know the transmission routes of STDs and HIV. A large proportion (64.5%) of the street children did not attend any kind of health education programs. Their personal hygiene is found to be very poor.
Conclusion: Improving access to existing health facilities, providing them with health education and looking for possibilities to reunite the street children with their families are recommended.
[Ethiop.J.Health Dev. 2002;16(2):129-137]