International Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology

International Journal of Public Health and Epidemiology ISSN: 2326-7291 Vol. 4 (2), pp. 121-128, February, 2015. © International Scholars Journals

Full Length Research Paper

Exposure, protection and self-reported health problems among solid waste handlers in a Coastal Peri-urban community in Ghana

James-Paul Kretchy*1 Mawuli Dzodzomenyo1, Thilde Rheinlӓnder3, Irene Ayi2, Flemming Konradsen3, Julius N. Fobil1 and Anders Dalsgaard4

1 Department of Biological, Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, School of Public Health College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon.   

2 Department of Parasitology, Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research, College of Health Sciences, University of Ghana, Legon.
3 Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology, Copenhagen School of Global Health, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
4 Department of Veterinary Disease Biology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

E-mail: jpkretchy@yahoo.com

Accepted 23, June 2014

Abstract 

Mixed method design was used to investigate exposure to waste, use of personal protective gear (PPG), and self-reported health problems among 280 solid waste handlers in a peri-urban township of southern Ghana. From the survey, the most commonly reported health problems were bodily pains (56.4%), headache (38.6%) and fever (35.7%). In-depth interviews highlighted eye problems, stomach pains and non-specific symptoms such as stress and tiredness. Waste handlers whose bare hands were exposed to waste had a higher likelihood to report fever [odds ratio (OR) = 1.89 (95% C.I 1.37 – 2.56), p < 0.0001] and diarrhoea [OR = 6.25 (95% C.I 4.17 – 10.00), p < 0.0001] compared with those who used rubber gloves. Similarly, waste handlers with uncovered mouth/nose had higher likelihood to report cough than those who used mouth/nose cover [OR = 7.69 (95% C.I 4.00 – 14.29), p < 0.0001]. Waste handlers who did not use PPGs consistently cited reasons including physical discomforts, impracticalities of wearing them in hot/humid conditions, inability of employers to supply or to finance PPGs. Waste handlers need affordable and suitable protective gear to reduce risk to  health as well as the provision of water and soap to promote personal hygiene at work. Employers must educate and train waste handlers on disease preventive purposes of using PPGs. 

Key words: Solid waste handlers, mixed method, exposure, protection, health problem, Peri-urban. 


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