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J Health Popul Nutr. 2004 Mar;22(1):52-8.

Risk factors for diarrhoea and upper respiratory tract infections among children in a rural area of Uganda.

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Department of Community Health, Ministry of Health, PO Box 7272, Kampala, Uganda.


This study explored risk factors associated with diarrhoea and upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs) among children in Sembabule district, Uganda. Data were collected from 300 women with children aged less than two years using the WHO 30-cluster sampling technique. The prevalence of diarrhoea among children was 40.3%. A child not immunized (odds ratio [OR] 2.8, p < 0.001), absence of latrine in a house (OR 1.4, p < 0.03), low knowledge of mixing oral rehydration salts (OR 1.7, p < 0.01), garbage thrown anywhere around the house (OR 2.6, p < 0.001), not washing hands after using latrine (OR 1.8, p < 0.03), and not washing hands before preparing food (OR 1.4, p < 0.04) were risk factors for diarrhoea. The prevalence of URTIs among children was 37.4%. A child not immunized (OR 2.4, p < 0.001), children aged 6-11 months (OR 2.1, p < 0.03), and previous episode of diarrhoea (OR 2.5, p < 0.001) were risk factors for URTIs. The results showed that low immunization status was an important risk factor for diarrhoea and URTIs among children in the study district of Uganda. For 75% of the children, care for fever was obtained from drug shops, while 9.2% were taken to health units. This is in contrast to diarrhoea cases where 49.5% of children were taken to health units for care. To reduce the burden of disease among children in this district, an integrated package of immunization services and other childcare programmes need to be implemented in addition to improved personal and environmental hygiene. There is also a need to design well-focused health-education messages to improve treatment-seeking behaviour for childhood diseases.

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