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Social contacts and other risk factors for respiratory infections among internally displaced people in Somaliland


  • van Zandvoort, Kevin
  • Bobe, Mohamed Omer
  • Hassan, Abdirahman Ibrahim
  • Abdi, Mohamed Ismail
  • Ahmed, Mohammed Saed
  • Soleman, Saeed Mohamood
  • Warsame, Mohamed Yusuf
  • Wais, Muna Awil
  • Diggle, Emma
  • McGowan, Catherine R.
  • Satzke, Catherine
  • Mulholland, Kim
  • Egeh, Mohamed Mohamoud
  • Hassan, Mukhtar Muhumed
  • Hergeeye, Mohamed Abdi
  • Eggo, Rosalind M.
  • Checchi, Francesco
  • Flasche, Stefan


Epidemics, Volume 41, 2022-12-31

Article Link: Click here

Background Populations affected by humanitarian crises experience high burdens of acute respiratory infections (ARI), potentially driven by risk factors for severe disease such as poor nutrition and underlying conditions, and risk factors that may increase transmission such as overcrowding and the possibility of high social mixing. However, little is known about social mixing patterns in these populations. Methods We conducted a cross-sectional social contact survey among internally displaced people (IDP) living in Digaale, a permanent IDP camp in Somaliland. We included questions on household demographics, shelter quality, crowding, travel frequency, health status, and recent diagnosis of pneumonia, and assessed anthropometric status in children. We present the prevalence of several risk factors relevant to transmission of respiratory infections, and calculated age-standardised social contact matrices to assess population mixing. Results We found crowded households with high proportions of recent self-reported pneumonia (46% in children). 20% of children younger than five are stunted, and crude death rates are high in all age groups. ARI risk factors were common. Participants reported around 10 direct contacts per day. Social contact patterns are assortative by age, and physical contact rates are very high (78%). Conclusions ARI risk factors are very common in this population, while the large degree of contacts that involve physical touch could further increase transmission. Such IDP settings potentially present a perfect storm of risk factors for ARIs and their transmission, and innovative approaches to address such risks are urgently needed.