Health profile of highland Ethiopians in a small town in the south-western part of the country.
BACKGROUND: In conjunction with an investigation of nerve function tests of highland Ethiopians in an area of low endemicity of leprosy for 25-30 years, a comprehensive health survey was performed.
METHODS: We assessed 236 subjects, 118 females and 118 males, 177 students and 59 adults (Others) aged 10-75 years from Chencha woreda. We used a detailed medical, personal and social history, anthropomorphic measurements and complete physical examination.
RESULTS: We identified six areas of medical concern: Intestinal parasite and diarrhoeal diseases affected 62%, despite treatment of all students and symptomatic adults the recurrence rate was high; skin diseases/conditions affected 88%; eye injections affected 26%; dental decay affected 33%; 20% had hypertension 14% requiring treatment; 11% gave a personal and/or family history of tuberculosis, 44% gave a history of BCG immunisation, while 34% had BCG scars, the lowest percentage (11%) being in students from Daramallo woreda.
RECOMMENDATIONS: Supplies of clean water, effective disposal of human excreta and control of flies would greatly reduce intestinal, skin and eye infections. Regular tooth cleaning and possibly fluoridation of drinking water should improve dental health, with diet and exercise for young hypertensives. BCG immunisation in Chencha and Daramallo woredas (inaccessible areas) needs urgent attention.