Plasmodium and intestinal helminths distribution among pregnant women in the Kassena-Nankana District of Northern Ghana

Abstract

Dominic Edoh, Godwin Fuseini, Bugre Gumah Kalifa, Dave Knight

Parasitic infection during pregnancy is a major cause of anaemia in Africa. Social and environmental risk factors for the transmission of human parasites vary according to geographical location. Knowledge of the geographical distribution of parasitic helminths and malaria parasites is key to any interventional programme. Thus, in August-November 2005, a hospital-based study was conducted on 300 pregnant women at their first attendance to antenatal health care. This was to determine the distribution of helminth/Plasmodium infections among pregnant women in the Kassena-Nankana District of Northern Ghana. Stool specimens were examined by the concentration method whilst blood specimens were examined microscopically. The district was divided into three micro- ecological zones; the irrigated-rural area, the non- irrigated-rural area and the township. The participants were allocated to a zone according to their place of residence. Prevalence of intestinal helminths in gravid women from the irrigated-rural area was 41.2% (28/68), followed by the non-irrigated area of 15.64% (28/178) and then the township of 11.32% (6/53). There was a significant difference in the prevalence of intestinal helminths by micro-ecological zone (p=0.0001, X²=23.02), and in the prevalence of Plasmodium by micro-ecological zone (p=0.0001, X²=42.30). The prevalence of Plasmodium infection in irrigated- rural area was 80.9% (55/68) , followed by the non-irrigated area of 60.7% (108/178) and the township of 22.64% (12/53). Out of the total 62 women infected with the intestinal helminths, 67.7% (42/62) were also co-infected with the Plasmodium parasite. The participant’s age had no significant association with intestinal helminth infestation or Plasmodium infection. Knowledge of the geographical distribution of intestinal helminths and malaria infection in this district will assist public health policy formulation and direction of health promotion activities. The high prevalence of parasites found in pregnant women from rural-irrigated areas requires interventions to reduce transmission of malaria and intestinal helminths.

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