Author(s): Sai Shankar Prathap1, Anand Acharya2
Tuberculosis is an age old disease which has remained as a major global public health problem with socioeconomic implications in developing countries. The interaction with HIV/AIDS and emergence of drug-resistant strains of tuberculosis bacilli has worsened the situation. India has a high burden of tuberculosis in terms of incidence, prevalence and mortality. RNTCP in India follows a passive case detection method for case finding in chest symptomatics. This makes it essential for the community at large and the younger generation in particular to have adequate knowledge and awareness regarding tuberculosis since it is highly infectious. High school children can be effectively sensitised and motivated to be change agents in the community and play a key role in combating tuberculosis.
To assess the awareness levels of 8th to 10th grade school students in Amalapuram, a town in coastal area of Andhra Pradesh regarding tuberculosis.
MATERIAL AND METHODS
After the study protocol was cleared by the Institutional Ethics Committee of Konaseema Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Foundation, Amalapuram, permission was sought from the authorities of five private schools and one government school in Amalapuram to carry out this study among the 8th to 10th grade students of these schools. A predesigned, pretested semi-structured questionnaire was used to capture information related to basic demographic details of the participants followed by questions related tuberculosis to assess their awareness. A cross-sectional survey was carried out and once the filled-in questionnaires were collected, an interactive session was held where various aspects of tuberculosis were elaborately explained, the answers to the questions were told in detail and doubts of the students were clarified.
The data collected was entered into a template created in computer using Microsoft Excel 2007. EPI INFO 6 software was used for statistical analysis. Chi Square test was done wherever applicable.
RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS
Total 581 out of 728 students (79.81%) participated consisting of 267 females and 314 males. The awareness levels of the study group are suboptimal for various aspects of tuberculosis such as epidemiology, symptoms, diagnostic tests, treatment as well as vaccine preventable nature of the disease. The knowledge gap has to be bridged through effective health education and communication to the community in general and the high school students in particular who can play a key role in combating tuberculosis.