A multilevel analysis of individual and contextual factors associated with the practice of safe disposal of children’s faeces in sub-Saharan Africa

Publisher:
Public Library of Science (PLoS)
Publication Type:
Journal Article
Citation:
PLoS One, 2021, 16, (8)
Issue Date:
2021-08-02
Full metadata record

Background

Over the years, sanitation programs over the world have focused more on household sanitation, with limited attention towards the disposal of children's stools. This lack of attention could be due to the misconception that children's stools are harmless. The current study examined the individual and contextual predictors of safe disposal of children's faeces among women in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA).

Methods

The study used secondary data involving 128,096 mother-child pairs of under-five children from the current Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) in 15 sub-Saharan African countries from 2015 to 2018. Multilevel logistic analysis was used to assess the individual and contextual factors associated with the practice of safe disposal of children's faeces. We presented the results as adjusted odds ratios (aOR) at a statistical significance of p< 0.05.

Results

The results show that 58.73% (57.79-59.68) of childbearing women in the 15 countries in SSA included in our study safely disposed off their children's stools. This varied from as high as 85.90% (84.57-87.14) in Rwanda to as low as 26.38% (24.01-28.91) in Chad. At the individual level, the practice of safe disposal of children's stools was more likely to occur among children aged 1, compared to those aged 0 [aOR = 1.74; 95% CI: 1.68-1.80] and those with diarrhoea compared to those without diarrhoea [aOR = 1.17, 95% CI: 1.13-1.21]. Mothers with primary level of education [aOR = 1.42, 95% CI: 1.30-1.5], those aged 35-39 [aOR = 1.20, 95% CI: 1.12-1.28], and those exposed to radio [aOR = 1.23, 95% CI: 1.20-1.27] were more likely to practice safe disposal of children's stools. Conversely, the odds of safe disposal of children's stool were lower among mothers who were married [aOR = 0.74, 95% CI: 0.69-0.80] and those who belonged to the Traditional African Religion [aOR = 0.64, 95% CI: 0.51-0.80]. With the contextual factors, women with improved water [aOR = 1.13, 95% CI: 1.10-1.16] and improved toilet facility [aOR = 5.75 95% CI: 5.55-5.95] had higher odds of safe disposal of children's stool. On the other hand, mothers who lived in households with 5 or more children [aOR = 0.89, 95% CI: 0.86-0.93], those in rural areas [aOR = 0.86, 95% CI: 0.82-0.89], and those who lived in Central Africa [aOR = 0.19, 95% CI: 0.18-0.21] were less likely to practice safe disposal of children's stools.

Conclusion

The findings indicate that between- and within-country contextual variations and commonalities need to be acknowledged in designing interventions to enhance safe disposal of children's faeces. Audio-visual education on safe faecal disposal among rural women and large households can help enhance safe disposal. In light of the strong association between safe stool disposal and improved latrine use in SSA, governments need to develop feasible and cost-effective strategies to increase the number of households with access to improved toilet facilities.
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