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Availability of adequately iodized in Northwest Ethiopia: a cross-sectional study

Archives of Public HealthThe official journal of the Belgian Public Health Association201775:33

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13690-017-0201-0

Received: 5 December 2016

Accepted: 12 May 2017

Published: 31 July 2017

Abstract

Background

Universal salt iodization is the most cost-effective, safe and sustainable strategy to eliminate iodine deficiency disorders. However, little is known about the availability of adequately iodized salt in the northwestern part of Ethiopia. Thus, the aim of this study was to assess the availability of adequately iodized salt at the household level and associated factors in Dabat District, northwest Ethiopia.

Methods

A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted from February 21 to March 31, 2016. We included 705 households in the study. A stratified multistage followed by simple random sampling technique was employed to select households. The level of salt iodine content was determined using the rapid field test kit. Accordingly, the value of <15 parts per million (PPM) and ≥15 PPM with the corresponding color chart on the rapid test kit were used to classify the level of iodine content in the sampled salt. A multivariable binary logistic regression model was fitted to identify factors associated with the availability of adequately iodized salt. Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) with the corresponding 95% Confidence Interval (CI) was calculated to show the strength of association.

Results

This study indicated that about 33.2% [95% CI: 29.6, 36.7%] of households had adequately iodized salt. Urban residence (AOR = 2.15, 95% CI: 1.23, 3.76), use of packed salt (AOR = 2.23, 95% CI: 1.01, 4.89), and good respondents' knowledge on iodized salt use (AOR = 1.49, 95% CI: 1.08, 2.08) were positively associated with the availability of adequately iodized salt. However, longer distance to buy salt was inversely related with availability of adequately iodized salt (AOR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.48, 0.99).

Conclusions

The availability of iodized salt is well under the WHO recommendation in Dabat District in spite of the fact that Ethiopia has been implementing universal salt iodization since the last five years. Therefore, intensifying strategies targeting to enhance community awareness on the benefit and handling practice of iodized salt is essential to improve availability of iodized salt. In addition, the focus needs to be on improving accessibility of iodized salt.

Keywords

Iodized saltKnowledgeResidenceDistanceEthiopia

Background

Iodine is important for thyroid hormone production, hence, it has a critical role in supporting brain development, control of metabolic function, and reproduction [1, 2]. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendation, a preschool children needs about 90 μg of iodine per day to prevent iodine deficiency (ID) [1].

Iodine deficiency is a major public health problem, especially in children and pregnant women [3]. It is known to cause mental retardation, goiter, miscarriage, still birth, premature birth, and increase child mortality, collectively called “iodine deficiency disorders (IDD)” [46].

Globally, close to 2 billion population is at risk of ID, while one-third live in areas where natural sources of iodine is low [7]. Universal salt iodization (USI) is recommended as the most cost-effective, safe and sustainable strategy to eliminate IDDs [7]. However, only 75% of the household’s worldwide use iodized salt. This USI coverage is considered as a dramatic increment compared to the 1990 report, 10% [8].

In terms of the region, an optimal iodized salt utilization (90%) is reported in East Asia and Pacific countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, 64% of households are using iodized salt nevertheless the level of utilization widely varies from 10 to 90% in different countries. For instance, utilization of iodized salt is less than 10% in Sudan, Mauritania, Guinea-Bissau, and Gambia, whereas, in Burundi, Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe, it is more than 90% [9].

In Ethiopia, utilization of adequately iodized shows a gradual improvement, 4% in 2000 to 15% in 2011 and 23% in 2014 [10, 11]. Disparities in level of utilization are detected with residence and regions. As illustration, iodized salt utilization is high in urban areas and in Amhara, Oromia, and Tigray regions compared to other regions [11].

Furthermore, level of availability of adequately iodized salt depends on other socio-demographic characteristics. Family size [12], economic status [13], mothers educational status [14, 15], knowledge about iodized salt use and prevention of IDDs [14, 16], and salt handling practices [1720] are significantly associated with availability of adequately iodized salt.

Ethiopia is a salt producing state, endorsed mandatory salt iodization program and is working with partners, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Micronutrient Initiatives, to reach utilization of iodized salt >90% thereby to mitigate ID [21]. But, still only 23.2% of the households use adequately iodized salt [11]. In addition, ID remains the major public health problem [22, 23] among school children and pregnant women [20, 24]. Even there is high prevalence of goiter in Dabat District, the study area [25]. However, there is a limited information on availability of universal iodized salt in Dabat District. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the household availability of adequately iodized salt and associated factors in Dabat District, northwest Ethiopia.

Methods

Study design and setting

A community-based cross-sectional study was conducted from February 21 to March 31, 2016, in Dabat District, northwest Ethiopia. The district is found 821 km from Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. It lies at an altitude of 1000–2500 meters and has a total population of 175,737 in 26 rural and 4 urban Kebeles (the smallest administration unit in Ethiopia). Cereals, such as maize, sorghum, wheat, and barley are the main staple crops cultivated in the district. The Health and Demographic Surveillance System (HDSS) site was also located in Dabat District. The HDSS site has been running since 1996 and hosted by the University of Gondar. The surveillance site covers 13 randomly selected kebeles (4 urban and 9 rural kebeles) in different ecological zones (high land, middle land, and lowland).

Sample size and sampling procedure

The sample size of the study was calculated using Open Epi version 2.3 software with the following assumptions; 33% as the prevalence of availability of iodized salt at the household level [14], 95% Confidence level, and a 5% margin of error. Finally, the sample size of 714 households was obtained by considering 5% non-response rate and a design effect of 2. A multistage stratified sampling followed by simple random sampling technique was employed to reach the households. Initially, households were stratified into urban and rural kebeles. Of the total13 kebles in the HDSS site, 4(1 urban and 3 rural kebeles) were selected by lottery method. A total number of households in the selected kebeles were obtained from HDSS site, and then the total number of households included in the study was proportionate-to-the household size. Finally, a simple random sampling technique was employed to select the households. Women who were majorly involved in food preparation of the household were interviewed.

Data collection instrument and procedure

We used a structured interviewer-administered questionnaire to collect data. The questionnaire was first prepared in English and was translated into the local language (Amharic) and finally, back translated to English to maintain consistency.

The pretest was done on five percent of the sample out of the study area. Two days training was given for data collectors and supervisors. A total of seven data collectors (an environmental health professional, and six permanent data collectors of the HDSS site) and two supervisors (two public health experts) were recruited for the study. The rapid test of salt iodine content was done by an environmental health professional who had adequate training (certificate of Training of Trainers) in the determination of salt iodine content. Daily supervision and feedback were carried out by the investigators and supervisors during the entire data collection period to maintain the quality of the data.

Salt iodine content determination

A tablespoon of salt was collected from each household, and the MBI international Rapid Test Kit (RTK) was used to determine the level of salt iodine content. The small cup in the kit was filled with salt, and made the cup surface flat. Two drops of test solution from white ampoule were added to the surface of the salt by piercing the white ampoule with a pin and gently squeezing the ampoule. The iodine content in the salt was determined within one minute by comparing the color change on the salt with the color chart. The value 0 parts per million (PPM), <15 PPM and ≥15 PPM with the corresponding color chart on the rapid test kit were used to classify the level of iodine in the sampled salt. If no color appears (after 1 min), 5 drops of the recheck solution from red ampoule was added to a fresh salt sample and followed by 2 drops of test solution on the same salt sample [1, 11]. Then, a comparison was done with the color chart indicators for salt iodine content. Finally, Availability of adequately iodized salt was considered when the household sampled salt had ≥ 15 ppm iodized salt [1], otherwise, it was classified to inadequately iodized salt.

Assessment of wealth status and maternal knowledge

The household’s wealth index was determined using Principal Component Analysis (PCA) by considering the household assets, quantity of cereal products, type of house, livestock and agricultural land ownership. First, variables were coded between 0 and 1. Secondly, variables entered and analyzed using PCA, and those variables having a communality value of greater than 0.5 were used to produce factor scores. Finally, the factor scores were summed and ranked into tertiles as poor, medium and rich.

Similarly, the knowledge of the respondents towards iodized salt use were computed by using nine knowledge item questions, including the importance of iodized salt, disorders resulted from ID, food sources of iodine, appropriate place of salt storage, time to add salt during food preparation, salt storage material, and existence of law prohibiting selling non-iodized salt in Ethiopia. Accordingly, the PCA was also used rank respondents' knowledge into not knowledgeable and knowledgeable.

Data processing and analysis

Data were checked and entered into EPI-Info version 7 and analyzed using SPSS version 20 statistical software. The availability of adequately iodized salt, the outcome variable, was dichotomized into inadequately iodized (0-14PPM) and adequately (≥15PPM) iodized salt based on the result of rapid test. Descriptive statistics were used to summarize variables. A binary logistic regression was fitted to identify factors associated with the availability of adequately iodized salt. Variables with a p-value less than <0.2 in the bivariable analysis and those variables which frequently showed significant association with the availability of adequately iodized salt in the previous studies, regardless of the p-value in the current study, were also fitted into the multivariable binary logistic regression analysis. A backward likelihood ratio method was employed. Both Crude Odds Ratio (COR) and Adjusted Odds Ratio (AOR) with the corresponding 95% Confidence Interval were estimated to show the strength of association. In multivariable analysis, variables with a p-value of <0.05 were considered as statistically significant.

Results

Socio-demographic and economic characteristics

A total of 705 households were included in the study, which makes a response rate of 98.7%. The median age of the respondents was 35 years with Inter-quartile Range (IQR) of ±10 years. About 434 (61.6%) of the households had a family size of greater than five. Three-quarters of the respondents, 539 (76.5%), were illiterate (Table 1).
Table 1

Socio-demographic and economic characteristics of respondents, Dabat District, northwest Ethiopia, March 2016 (n = 705)

Variables

Frequency

Percentage

Age of respondents

 16–24

36

5.1

 25–34

268

38.0

 35–49

330

46.8

 50–79

71

10.1

Residence

 Urban

151

21.4

 Rural

554

78.6

Mother’s marital status

 Currently married

616

87.4

 Currently unmarriedc

99

12.6

Religion

 Orthodox

689

97.7

 Muslim

16

2.3

Mother’s education

 Illiterate

539

76.5

 Primary

97

13.8

 Secondary and above

69

9.8

Husband’s education

 Illiterate

390

55.3

 Primary

225

31.9

 Secondary and above

90

12.8

Mother’s occupation

 Housewife

309

43.8

 Farmer

319

45.2

 Merchant

32

4.5

 Government employee

25

3.5

 Othersb

20

2.8

Husband’s Occupation

 Farmer

571

81.0

 Merchant

36

5.1

 Government employee

72

10.2

 Othersa

26

3.7

Family size

 <6

271

38.4

 ≥6

434

61.6

Wealth status

 Poor

237

33.6

 Medium

233

33.0

 Rich

235

33.3

adaily laborer, pension; bstudents, daily laborer; csingle, divorced, widowed

Availability of adequately iodized salt

In Dabat District availability of iodized salt was 33.2% (95% CI: 0.296, 0.367). About 675 (95.7%) of households used the unpacked type of salt for food preparation out of which 457 (67.7%) were inadequately iodized. A substantial proportion (95 and 91%, respectively) of salt was covered and stored away from a fire. However, 355 (50.4%) of the salt was added at the beginning and middle of food preparation (Table 2).
Table 2

Availability of adequately iodized salt and handling practices, Dabat District, northwest, Ethiopia, March 2016 (n = 705)

Variables

Frequency

Percentage

Type of salt

 Packed

30

4.3

 Unpacked

675

95.7

Addition of salt during food preparation

 At the beginning and the middle

355

50.4

 At the end

350

49.6

Salt exposure to sunlight

 Yes

35

5.0

 No

670

95.0

Washing of salt to remove impurities

 Yes

13

1.8

 No

692

98.2

Quantity of salt purchased commonly

 <1 kg

  

 1 kg

439

62.3

 2–5 kg

153

21.7

 >5 kg

113

16.0

Place of salt storage

 Near to the fire

65

9.2

 Away from the fire

640

90.8

Salt storage material

 With closed container

669

94.9

 Without closed container

36

5.1

Duration of household salt storage

 1-8 weeks

642

91.1

 ≥9 weeks

63

8.9

Salt iodine content

 0-14PPM

472

66.8

 ≥15 PPM

234

33.2

Distance travel to buy iodized salt

  

 ≤60 min walking

509

72.2

 >60 min walking

196

27.8

Respondent’s knowledge and attitude towards iodized salt use

Nearly half, 320 (45.4%), of the respondents had good knowledge while two-third, 441 (62.6%), of the respondents had favorable attitude towards iodized salt use. Nevertheless, nearly half, 314 (44.5%), of them didn’t know the importance of using iodized salt (Table 3).
Table 3

Respondent’s knowledge and attitude towards iodized salt use, Dabat District northwest Ethiopia, 2016 (n = 735)

Variables

Frequency

Percentage

Respondent’s knowledge

 Poor

385

54.6

 Good

320

45.4

Respondent’s attitude

 Unfavorable

264

37.4

 Favorable

441

62.6

Importance of iodized salta

 Prevention of goiter

110

15.6

 Growth and development

16

2.3

 For health

364

51.6

 I don’t know

314

44.5

The richest source of iodinea

 Egg

25

3.5

 Meat

37

5.2

 Milk and milk products

37

5.2

 Iodized salt

61

8.7

 Fish

8

1.1

 Fruit and vegetables

7

1

 I don’t know

591

83.8

Disorders of lack of iodinea

 Mental retardation

25

3.5

 Goiter

174

24.7

 Retarded growth

7

1

 Abortion

9

1.3

 Child mortality

1

0.1

 I don’t know

501

71.1

All salts contain iodine

 Yes

73

10.4

 No

212

30.1

 I don’t know

420

59.6

Existence of law that prevents selling none iodized salt for human/animal consumption

 Yes

44

6.2

 No

181

25.7

 I don’t know

480

68.1

Test of iodized salt is different from unionized one

 Yes

175

24.8

 No

267

37.9

 I don’t know

263

37.3

Iodized salt has a harmful effect on health

 Yes

33

4.7

 No

590

83.7

 I don’t know

82

11.6

Salt obtained from the sea already contain iodine in the right quantities

 Yes

97

13.8

 No

386

54.8

 I don’t know

222

31.5

amultiple responses

Factors associated with the availability of adequately iodized salt

To assess the effect of selected variables on the availability of iodized salt in the household, both bivariable and multivariable binary logistic regression analyses were fitted. Accordingly, residence, type of salt used, maternal knowledge and distance traveled to buy salt were associated with the availability of iodized salt in the final model. The higher odds of availability of adequately iodized salt were observed among households located in urban kebeles (AOR = 2.15; 1.23, 3.76)) and used packed type of salt (AOR = 2.23; 1.01, 4.89). Similarly, the odds of having adequately iodized salt were 1.49 times (AOR = 1.49; 1.08, 2.08) higher among respondents who had good knowledge towards iodized salt use as compared to their counterparts. Whereas lower odds of availability of adequately iodized salt were found among respondents who traveled a longer distance to buy salt (AOR = 0.68, 95% CI: 0.48, 0.99) (Table 4).
Table 4

Factors associated with the availability of adequately iodized salt in the household, Dabat District, northwest, Ethiopia, March 2016 (n = 705)

Variables

Availability of iodized salt

Crude Odds Ratio 95% C1

Adjusted Odds Ratio 95% CI

 

≥15PPM

<15PPM

  

Respondents age in years

 16–24

15

21

1.82 (0.79, 4.22)

*

 25–34

84

184

1.16 (0.65, 2.07)

*

 35–49

115

215

1.36 (0.78, 2.40)

*

 50–79

20

51

1.00

*

Residence

 Urban

63

88

1.60 (1.11, 2.32)

2.15 (1.23, 3.76)

 Rural

171

383

1.00

1.00

Mother’s education

 Illiterate

171

368

1.00

*

 Primary education

38

59

1.39 (0.89, 2.17)

*

 Secondary and above

25

44

1.22 (0.73, 2.06)

*

Husband’s education

 Illiterate

126

264

1.00

*

 Primary education

73

152

1.01 (0.71, 1.43)

*

 Secondary and above

35

55

1.33 (0.83, 2.14)

*

Mother’s occupation

 Housewife

99

210

1.00

*

 Farmer

109

210

1.10 (0.80, 1.54)

*

 Merchant

11

21

1.11 (0.52, 2.39)

*

 Government employee

9

16

1.19 (0.51, 2.79)

*

 Others

6

14

0.91 (0.34, 2.44)

*

Husband’s occupation

 Farmer

13

23

1.00

*

 Merchant

185

386

0.85 (0.42, 1.71)

*

 Government employee

24

48

0.89 (0.38, 2.05)

*

 Others

12

14

1.52 (0.54, 4.24)

*

Family size

 ≤ 5

96

175

1.18 (0.85, 1.62)

*

 ≥ 6

138

296

1.00

*

Household wealth index

 Poor

81

156

1.00

*

 Medium

69

164

0.81 (0.55, 1.19)

*

 Rich

84

151

1.07 (0.73, 1.56)

*

Type of salt

 Packed

16

14

2.39 (1.15, 4.99)

2.23 (1.01, 4.89)

 Non-packed

218

457

1.00

1.00

Salt exposure to sunlight

 No

225

445

1.00

*

 Yes

9

26

0.69 (0.32, 1.49)

*

Place of salt storage

 Near to fire

21

44

0.96 (0.56, 1.65)

*

 Away from fire

213

427

1.00

*

Salt storage

 With closed material

222

447

1.00

*

 Without closed material

12

24

1.01 (0.49, 2.05)

*

Duration of salt storage

 1–8 weeks

212

430

1.00

*

 ≥9 weeks

22

41

1.09 (0.63, 1.87)

*

Mother’s knowledge

 Poor

113

272

1.00

1.00

 Good

121

199

1.46 (1.07, 2.00)

1.49 (1.08, 2.08)

Mother’s attitude

 Unfavorable

81

183

1.00

*

 Favorable

153

288

1.20 (0.86, 1.66)

*

Distance travel to buy salt

≤60 min walking

180

329

1.00

1.00

>60 min walking

54

142

0.69 (0.48, 0.99)

0.68 (0.48, 0.99)

*didn’t appear in the final model (not significant) using Backward LR

Discussion

It is clear that the use of non-iodized salt by households is the major obstacle in the control of IDDs in a given community [26, 27]. Therefore, regular monitoring of availability of adequately iodized salt is an essential step to eliminate the problem [28, 29]. Cognizant of the fact, the WHO recommendation recommend utilization of the household iodized salt to be greater than 90% to eliminate IDDs [1]. Nevertheless, this study found that only 33.2% (95% CI: 29.6, 36.7%), of households had adequately iodized salt. The result is considerably lower than the national goal of reaching >90%, which alerts the public authorities to consider regular monitoring of the quality of salt at the site of production, wholesale and household level. Strengthening media promotion on efficient utilization of iodized salt, at household level, is very also crucial [30].

On the other hand, the availability of adequately iodized salt in Dabat District (33.2%) is higher than other urban district of Ethiopia: Assosa (26.1%) and Gondar (28.9%) [31, 32]. Likewise, the finding is higher compared to a study in Kenya (26.2%) [33]. This is probably due to improved effort of local government to ensure market availability of iodized salt, the best strategies to address ID in areas where the natural source of iodine is low. The officials are also giving special emphasis in promoting the health benefit of iodized salt through the local medias to bring the desired public awareness [34].

However, availability of adequately iodized salt is significantly lower than the one observed in India (81.9%) [35], and Ethiopia (62.9% [36]. Mother’s poor knowledge towards iodized salt and using unpacked type of salt in 80% of the households could explain the lower prevalence of availability of adequately iodized salt in this study area compared to latter local report. In addition, shorter duration of time in implementation of universal salt iodization compared to India might explain the observed discrepancy.

In this study, respondents from urban kebeles were more likely to have adequately iodized salt compared to those living in the rural settings. This finding is supported by another study in Ethiopia [37]. This could related to better literacy rate and access to media among urban dwellers which might enhance their level of understanding regarding the importance of  iodized salt and information access, respectively. In addition, urban respondents have access to media, and iodized salt everywhere and every time. Furthermore, rural residents may prefer using non-iodized salt because they perceived that its low cost and more potency in test compared to iodized one [38].

The study also detected that the odds of availability of adequately iodized salt were higher in households using a packed type of salt than their counterparts using unpacked type of salt. This report is in agreement with another former study from West Ethiopia [37]. It is documented that loss of iodine in salt from a good quality polyethylene packing material is less than 10% over 18 months period, regardless of the climatic conditions or fine and coarse texture of salt [1]. Given that loss of iodine is common in the case of the unpacked type of salt because of exposure to heat, moisture, and humidity [33, 38].

On the other hand, traveling longer distance to access shops enforces people to purchase a large amount of iodized salt at once which will increase the chance of losing iodine because of storing the salt for a longer period of time [13]. I line to this evidence, the current study indicated that the likelihood of having adequately iodized salt was lower in the respondents who traveled a longer distance to buy iodized salt compared to their counter parts.

Obviously, boosting mother’s knowledge on iodized salt is an important step to ensure appropriate utilization of iodized salt in the household level [14, 28, 32]. Similarly, this study showed that the odds of having adequately iodized salt were higher among respondents who had good knowledge towards iodized salt compared to those who had poor knowledge. This could be related to the positive effect of mother’s good knowledge in appropriately using and storing of iodized salt. A previous study also documented that poor iodine knowledge is the risk factors for IDDs [39].

Adequate training was given to field assistances (data collectors and supervisors) to improve the quality of data. Though mothers were clearly informed about the objective of the investigation, the study is not free from social desirability bias in responding the type of salt use and handling practice. Moreover, the semi-quantitative method was used to measure salt iodine content which may not reflect the actual availability of adequately iodized salt in the study area.

Conclusions

Despite Ethiopia has been implementing universal salt iodization since the last five years, the availability of iodized salt is well under the WHO recommendation in Dabat District. Therefore, strengthening measures to enhance community awareness on the benefit and handling practice of iodized salt is essential to improve availability of iodized salt. In addition to this, the focus needs to be on improving accessibility of iodized salt. Finally, the authors would like to recommend the future investigators to use iodometric titration method

Abbreviations

EPHI: 

Ethiopia Public Health Institute

HDSS: 

Health, and demographic surveillance system

ID: 

Iodine deficiency

IDD: 

Iodine deficiency disorder

PCA: 

Principal component analysis

PPM: 

Parts per million

UNICEF: 

United Nations Children’s Fund

WHO: 

World Health Organization

Declarations

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank all respondents for their willingness to participate in the study. They are also grateful to North Gondar Zonal Health Department, Dabat District Health Office, Food and Nutrition Society of Ethiopia and the University of Gondar for their financial and material support. Finally, authors' appreciations go to Dabat HDSS site staffs for their unreserved contribution in data collection activities.

Funding

This study was funded jointly by the Food and Nutrition Society of Ethiopia and the University of Gondar. The views presented in this manuscript are of the authors and not necessarily express the views of the funding organizations. The funding organizations were not involved in the design, data collection, analysis, and interpretation of the study.

Availability of data and materials

Data will be available upon request from the corresponding author.

Authors' contributions

ZA conceived the study, developed the tool, coordinated the data collection activity, carried out the statistical analysis and drafted the manuscript. AT participated in the design of the study, tool development, fund acquisition, data collection supervision, statistical analysis and drafting and reviewing the manuscript. EG participated in the design of the study and tool development, performed statistical analysis, and reviewing and editing the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Consent for publication

Not applicable.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

Ethical clearance was obtained from the Institutional Review Board of the Institute of Public Health, University of Gondar (Ref. No. IPH/2885/2016). The supportive letter was obtained from North Gondar Zonal Health Department and Dabat District Health Office. During house to house data collection, verbal informed consent was obtained from each respondent after briefly explaining the purpose, and benefit of the study. Health education about the use of iodized salt and handling practices were given to each respondent/mother after data collection. Confidentiality was maintained by avoiding personal identifiers and keeping the data locked.

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Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
Department of Human Nutrition, Institute of Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar
(2)
Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Public Health, College of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Gondar

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