Assessment of Primary School Preparedness for H1N1 Pandemic in Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia

Dr. Rasha Al Sheikh

University of Dammam Training Program 2009 / 2010

Introduction: Experience with pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in many countries has demonstrated the importance of schools in amplifying transmission of the virus – both within schools and the wider community. The aim of present study is to assess the preventive measures taken at primary schools in the Eastern province to reduce transmission of H1N1 influenza.

Objectives: To assess human and non-human resources of primary schools in the Eastern province for prevention of H1N1 flu transmission. To assess knowledge of primary school students about H1N1 flu prevention. To assess school environmental sanitation by microbiological screening for contamination with respiratory organisms.

Methodology: Target population: Female primary school students in Dammam and Khobar are considered our target population. The female primary students amount to 46,884. Sample size: The study sample size was calculated by EpiInfo statistical package, the minimum required sample size was 381. Sampling technique: Two 6th grade classes (about 50 students) were selected by multistage stratified random sampling technique with proportional allocation from private and public primary schools in Dammam, Khobar and Dhahran for assessing their knowledge about H1N1 influenza. All selected schools were assessed for availability of human and non-human resources. Sampling of the environmental surfaces: Desktops of the 50 students studied in each school were sampled at the end of the day. The total sample size was 500 samples.Methods of data collection: A pre-designed checklist based on WHO, CDC and Saudi Ministry of Education recommendations was used to assess the availability and appropriateness of human and non-human resources for prevention of H1N1 transmission in primary schools . Self-administered questionnaires was submitted to primary students to assess their knowledge about H1N1 flu prevention. The questionnaire designed according to WHO, CDC and Saudi Ministry of Education recommendations and covering socio-demographic data, information about the seriousness of H1N1 flu, high risk groups, methods of prevention of H1N1 transmission, precautions in case of infection, precautions to avoid drug resistance to Tamiflu and indications to H1N1 vaccination. Environmental sanitation in schools was evaluated by screening of students’ desks for contamination by potential respiratory pathogens using Rapid Antigen Test.

Results: The present study revealed proper implementation of recommended preventive and control measures in primary schools of Dammam and Khobar, which resulted in low percentage of suspected and confirmed cases (0.7% and 0.1% respectively), and negative screening tests of all screened desks, in spite of low vaccination coverage. There was deficit in the student knowledge.

Conclusion: In general there was proper implementation of recommended preventive and control measures in primary schools, which was better in Khobar than in Dammam



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