High levels of scabies and malnutrition amongst orphans referred to a hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Balew Arega, Ermias Diro, Taye Zewude, Tadesse Getahun, Asnake Agunie, Philip Owiti, Mbazi Senkoro, Saskia van Henten

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Introduction: Orphans are at high risk for neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) and other comorbidities such as malnutrition. We investigated how many orphans suffered from scabies, other NTDs and malnutrition.

Methodology: A descriptive study using medical records of orphans referred to a teaching hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from December 2014 to December 2018 was done. Files documenting NTDs were reviewed in detail for age, referral diagnosis, and nutritional status. Nutritional assessment was done using the WHO Standard growth curve, classifying children as stunted (height for age Z score <-2SD or wasted (weight for length Z score <-2SD).

Results: Of the 852 orphans referred, 23.1% (196/852) was diagnosed with scabies, amongst which 28.1% (55/196) had multiple episodes. The median age (interquartile range) of the children with scabies was 3 (2-5) months. 85.2% (169/196) of the orphans with scabies were stunted and /or wasted. No other NTDs were reported. All of the scabies cases identified were not documented in the referral letter of the orphanage.

Conclusions: There is ongoing transmission of scabies among children in the orphanage. Amongst orphans with scabies, an alarmingly high percentage was malnourished. Referrals from orphanages may provide an opportunity to detect NTDs and this is being missed.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Infection in Developing Countries
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)48S-52S
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Congregate settings
  • scabies
  • vulnerable populations
  • integrated approach
  • Ethiopia
  • operational research


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