by Emma C. Hobbs, Kabemba Evans Mwape, Brecht Devleesschauwer, Inge Van Damme, Meryam Krit, Dirk Berkvens, Gideon Zulu, Moses Mambwe, Mwelwa Chembensofu, Chiara Trevisan, Jacoba Baauw, Isaac Khozozo Phiri, Niko Speybroeck, Jennifer Ketzis, Pierre Dorny, Arve Lee Willingham, Sarah Gabriël
Taenia solium is a neglected zoonotic parasite endemic throughout many low-income countries worldwide, including Zambia, where it causes human and pig diseases with high health and socioeconomic burdens. Lack of knowledge is a recognized risk factor, and consequently targeted health educational programs can decrease parasite transmission and disease occurrence in endemic areas.Preliminary assessment of the computer-based education program ‘The Vicious Worm’ in rural areas of eastern Zambia indicated that it was effective at increasing knowledge of T. solium in primary school students. The aim of this study was to evaluate the impact of ‘The Vicious Worm’ on knowledge retention by re-assessing the same primary school students one year after the initial education workshops.
Follow-up questionnaires were administered in the original three primary schools in eastern Zambia in 2017, 12 months after the original workshops. In total, 86 pupils participated in the follow-up sessions, representing 87% of the initial workshop respondents. Knowledge of T. solium at ‘follow-up’ was significantly higher than at the initial ‘pre’ questionnaire administered during the Vicious Worm workshop that took place one year earlier. While some specifics of the parasite’s life cycle were not completely understood, the key messages for disease prevention, such as the importance of hand washing and properly cooking pork, remained well understood by the students, even one year later.
Results of this study indicate that ‘The Vicious Worm’ may be an effective tool for both short- and long-term T. solium education of rural primary school students in Zambia. Inclusion of educational workshops using ‘The Vicious Worm’ could be recommended for integrated cysticercosis control/elimination programs in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly if the content is simplified to focus on the key messages for prevention of disease transmission.
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