Local perceptions, cultural beliefs, practices and changing perspectives of handling infant feces: A case study in a rural geita district, north-western Tanzania

Joy J. Chebet, Aminata Kilungo, Halimatou Alaofè, Hamisi Malebo, Shaaban Katani, Mark Nichter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

We report on the management of infant feces in a rural village in Geita region, Tanzania. Findings discussed here emerged incidentally from a qualitative study aimed at investigating vulnerability and resilience to health challenges in rural settings. Data was gathered through semi-structured focus group discussions (FDGs) with women (n = 4; 32 participants), men (n = 2; 16 participants), and community leaders (n = 1; 8 participants). All FDGs were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim and thematically analyzed using Atlas.ti. Respondents reported feces of a child under the age of six months were considered pure compared to those of older children. Infant feces were seen as transitioning to harmful at the point when the child began to eat solid food, resulting in their stool visually changing in appearance. Caregivers reportedly used soft implements to handle infant feces due to the belief that tools with hard surfaces would physically harm the child. Infant feces were disposed in environments around the house due to the belief that disposal in latrines would prevent developmental milestones and result in other perceived negative health outcomes for the child. Changing views expressed by participants suggest a window of opportunity to implement evidence-based and culturally relevant interventions to encourage the safe disposal of infant feces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3084
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume17
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2020

Keywords

  • Child feces management
  • Culturally relevant interventions
  • Diarrhea transmission
  • Geita Region
  • Infant feces disposal
  • Perceptions
  • Tanzania

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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