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Abstract

This is a descriptive study of the health and hygiene behaviors of grandparents who are the primary caregivers of their grandchildren in four West African countries, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone. The article utilizes data from each country’s most recent Demographic and Health Survey (DHS). The study identified 20,841 households where grandparents were primary caregivers. As expected, most of these households are in Nigeria given their population exceeds the collective population of the other three West African countries. However, the number of grandfamilies in Ghana, Sierra Leone and Liberia is still worrisome for their population size. In each country, over half of the children in the care of their grandparents are preschool age or younger, suggesting the type of services in early child care that may be required. Regarding health and hygiene behaviors, over 60% of grandparent households have access to mosquito bed nets, but over 50% of the grandparents report not using, with Nigeria report the largest non- usage rate of 78.6%. Although the available of data is limited in scope, the descriptive analysis provides a foundation upon which more rigorous research can be built to address the health risks and needs confronting grandfamilies in African countries.