The health status of children living in orphanages of Peshawar, Pakistan: a cross sectional survey
Keywords:Health Status, Orphans, Orphanages, Vaccination, Dental Caries
Introduction: Pakistan is home to more than four million orphans. Being a vulnerable population, orphans are more likely to suffer from malnutrition, food insecurity, and physical/mental abuse compared to children living with their parent(s).
Objective: To assess the nutritional status of children living in orphanages of Peshawar, Pakistan by anthropometry, clinically assessment of general physical health, visual acuity, and oral and dental hygiene.
Materials & Methods: A cross-sectional descriptive study was conducted from November 2018 to March 2019. A convenience sample of 266 orphans aged 5 to 15 years was drawn from three orphanages of Peshawar. Ethical approval was taken from the Institutional Review Committee. Data were collected using modified WHO healthcare Performa & analysed for descriptive statistics using SPSS version 21.0.
Results: The mean age of orphans was 12 ± 2.56 years; 58.6% were malnourished, 30.5% and 0.4% showed signs of anemia and jaundice respectively. Regarding visual issues, 21.4% had decreased visual acuity of which 81% were due to refractive errors. In addition, 28.6% had excessive ear wax with 11.3% giving a history of ear discharge. Skin disorders were present in 23.4% children. Oral and dental health issues were found in 37.6% as dental gross deposits, while 3.1% had bad breath; 7.1% suffered from bleeding gums and 29.3% had dental caries. Frequency of malnutrition was significantly higher among children aged 10 year or less than those in 11-15 year age group (p<0.001). Lastly, 54.5% participants did not have the BCG scars on their arms.
Conclusion: Majority of the children residing in orphanages had unsatisfactory health status, suffering from malnourishment, different disorders of skin, eyes, poor oral hygiene, and unvaccinated status.