Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Untangling Complexity: Assessing the Joint Effects of Population Composition and Context on Perceived Exposure to Onchocerciasis in Coastal Tanzania

Version 1 : Received: 30 December 2020 / Approved: 31 December 2020 / Online: 31 December 2020 (06:56:40 CET)

How to cite: Armah, F.; Boamah, S. Untangling Complexity: Assessing the Joint Effects of Population Composition and Context on Perceived Exposure to Onchocerciasis in Coastal Tanzania. Preprints 2020, 2020120767 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0767.v1). Armah, F.; Boamah, S. Untangling Complexity: Assessing the Joint Effects of Population Composition and Context on Perceived Exposure to Onchocerciasis in Coastal Tanzania. Preprints 2020, 2020120767 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202012.0767.v1).

Abstract

Onchocerciasis volvulus is the second highest infectious cause of blindness in the world, and is estimated to affect 37 million people, of whom 99% reside in sub-Saharan Africa. As a public health problem the disease is most closely associated with Africa, where it constitutes a serious obstacle to socio-economic development. Using the human ecology triad, this paper evaluates the dynamic interplay of population, habitat and behavioural factors in predicting perceived exposure to onchocerciasis among coastal inhabitants in Tanzania. Generalized linear models with log-log link function were fitted to cross-sectional survey data on 1253 individuals in three contiguous coastal regions. A significant proportion of respondents (28%) perceived that they were exposed to onchocerciasis. Residents in urban locations irrespective of wealth status were less likely to report living in onchocerciasis endemic environment compared with their rural counterparts. This is understandable given that urban areas of Tanga and Dar es Salaam are definitely non-endemic and perceived risk of onchocerciasis is related to the fact of living in an endemic area with active onchocercasis transmission. Individuals who had attained secondary (OR=0.51, p<0.01) or tertiary education (OR=0.37, p<0.001), and reported easy access to health facility (OR=0.53, p<0.001) were all less likely to report perceived exposure to onchocerciasis. This is not surprising because higher level of education and easy access to health facilities are characteristics of urban compared with rural areas. Policy implications suggest the need for the Tanzanian national neglected tropical disease control programme (TZNTDCP) to intensify health and educational campaigns at the community level and address susceptibility of vulnerable populations to the disease especially, for rural dwellers.

Subject Areas

onchocerciasis; perception; socio-environmental determinants; human ecology; coast; Tanzania

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