Risk Factors of Diarrheal Disease Among Children in the East African Countries of Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania

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Diarrheal diseases are a leading cause of childhood morbidity and mortality globally and in East Africa. Determining diarrheal disease risk factors and their strength of association to diarrheal disease in this region is necessary to identify and prioritize future research questions and interventions. Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) Program Data on child health in Burundi, Rwanda, and Tanzania from 2010 were used and simple and multiple logistic regressions were completed to determine factors that predicted diarrheal disease. Diarrhea that occurred in the two weeks prior to data collection was reported for 24.80% of Burundian, 13.1% of Rwandan, and 13.91% of Tanzanian children under five. In Burundian children, increased risk of diarrhea was associated with unimproved sanitation, young mothers, and the mother’s education level (secondary school or less). In Rwandan children, increased risk of diarrhea was associated with more than 30-minute travel time to water source, rainy season, young mothers, mother’s lack of education, and low wealth index. In Tanzanian children, increased risk of diarrhea was associated with rainy season and young mothers. The impact of improved water source and sanitation facility on diarrheal disease is not consistent across the literature or results of this study. Future research should include information on hygiene practices, type of water storage container and types of household water treatment. Further, pathogen specific research, such as molecular fingerprinting, would assist to link the source to the disease. These additions would provide a more comprehensive understanding of risk factors for and sources of diarrheal disease globally and in East Africa.

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This document was originally published in Global Journal of Medicine and Public Health.