Health and disease among Somali primary school children in Hargeisa

Authors: Magnus Andreas Nordstrand, Daniel Stenberg Saxe, Mohammed Abdirizak Mohammed and Mary B. Adam

Global Health Action, 2019


Background and objective: Limited data exist on health conditions of school children in Somaliland. School Health Intervention Pilot Program (SHIPP) was conducted through Edna Adan University Hospital to screen children and offer interventions. We present the results of the general health screening of the school children, and also describe the association between nutritional status and other variables.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study children from two public primary schools in Hargeisa were assessed for general health by nursing students. Nutritional status was assessed by BMIfor-age z-scores and visual acuity by Paediatric Snellen Chart.

Results: We screened 2,093 children aged 4–19 years; 58% were boys. Very low BMI-for-age (z-score < −3) was detected in 10%; 6% had visual acuity below 0.7; 26% had dental caries. Children reported low exposure to health services: 33% reported no prior vaccination; 46% reported they had never visited a health clinic or hospital.

Conclusion: A significant number of children were malnourished, had reduced visual acuity or treatable infections which could impact their ability to learn. Public schools are a feasible entry point for public health action including screening, treatment, and referral in fragile countries.

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