Baseline health conditions in selected communities of northern Sierra Leone as revealed by the health impact assessment of a biofuel project.

International health

PubMedID: 24984863

Winkler MS, Knoblauch AM, Righetti AA, Divall MJ, Koroma MM, Fofanah I, Turay H, Hodges MH, Utzinger J. Baseline health conditions in selected communities of northern Sierra Leone as revealed by the health impact assessment of a biofuel project. Int Health. 2014;6(3):232-41.
BACKGROUND
As biofuel projects may be associated with positive and negative effects on people's health and wellbeing, a health impact assessment was performed for the Addax Bioenergy Sierra Leone (ABSL) project. We present data from the baseline health survey, which will provide a point of departure for future monitoring and evaluation activities.

METHODS
In December 2010, a cross-sectional survey was carried out in eight potentially affected communities. A broad set of clinical and parasitological indicators were assessed using standardised, quality-controlled procedures, including anthropometry and prevalence of anaemia, Plasmodium falciparum and helminth infections.

RESULTS
Complete datasets were obtained from 1221 individuals of 194 households and eight schools. Of children aged <5 years (n=586), 41.8% were stunted, 23.2% were underweight and 4.8% were wasted. Very high prevalences of anaemia and P. falciparum were found in children aged 6-59 months (n=571; 86.1% and 74.0%, respectively). Overall, 73.7% of women of reproductive age (n=395) were anaemic. In school-aged children (n=240), 27.9% had light- to moderate-intensity hookworm infections, whereas Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura and Schistosoma mansoni were rare (<3% each).

CONCLUSIONS
The detailed description of the baseline health conditions, in combination with future health surveys, will deepen the understanding of how a biofuel project impacts on community health in a rural setting in sub-Saharan Africa.