Monitoring of selected health indicators in children living in a copper mine development area in northwestern Zambia

The epidemiology of malaria, anaemia and malnutrition in children is potentially altered in mining development areas. In a copper extraction project in northwestern Zambia, a health impact assessment (HIA) was commissioned to predict, manage and monitor health impacts. Two cross-sectional surveys were conducted: at baseline prior to project development (2011) and at four years into development (2015). Prevalence of Plasmodium falciparum, anaemia and stunting were assessed in under-five-year-old children, while hookworm infection was assessed in children aged 9-14 years in communities impacted and comparison communities not impacted by the project. P. falciparum prevalence was significantly higher in 2015 compared to 2011 in both impacted and comparison communities (odds ratio (OR) = 2.51 and OR = 6.97, respectively). Stunting was significantly lower in 2015 in impacted communities only (OR = 0.63). Anaemia was slightly lower in 2015 compared to baseline in both impacted and comparison communities. Resettlement due to the project and migration background (i.e., moving into the area within the past five years) were generally associated with better health outcomes in 2015. We conclude that repeated cross-sectional surveys to monitor health in communities impacted by projects should become an integral part of HIA to deepen the understanding of changing patterns of health and support implementation of setting-specific public health measures.

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