Need For Water & Sanitation
Helping people with clean water and good hygiene and sanitation practices does more than just make their lives easier and more pleasant; it can help prevent life-threatening and debilitating diseases.
THE EFFECT OF VILLAGE WATER’S WORK
A study was carried out in early 2010 by Thomas G. Trower BSc on behalf of Village Water: "Health Impact Study of Village Water: Interventions within Kaoma District". The full report is available on request.
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More children die worldwide from diarrhoeal diseases than from HIV, malaria and measles combined. (Dr Valerie Curtis, Director of the Hygiene Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine speaking on BBC Woman’s Hour on 11th October 2010)
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO): Diarrhoea occurs world-wide and causes 4% of all deaths and 5% of health loss to disability. It is most commonly caused by gastrointestinal infections which kill around 2.2 million people globally each year, mostly children in developing countries. The use of water in hygiene is an important preventive measure but contaminated water is also an important cause of diarrhoea. Cholera and dysentery cause severe, sometimes life threatening forms of diarrhoea.
Interventions to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene practices have been shown to reduce sickness from diarrhoea by between a quarter and a third. (Esrey et al, 1991; Fewtrell et al, 2005)
Hand washing with soap is estimated to reduce diarrhoea illness risk by 48%; improved water quality gives 17% reduction and 36% for excreta disposal , although more research is needed. (Cairncross, 2010)
Open defecation is an important health hazard. If the village has a well but continues to practice open defecation, intestinal worms will continue to be a problem. Village Water teaches rural villagers why open defecation creates health problems for themselves and their children.
Approximately one half of the population of the developing world is infected with intestinal worms. These parasites can lead to malnutrition, anaemia, and retarded growth and cognitive abilities depending upon the severity of the infection. (Chan, 1997) All are spread due to contamination of the environment with faeces containing parasite eggs.
Bilharzias (Schistosomiasis) is a chronic disease caused by a reaction of the body to the eggs of a worm. The incidence of bilharzias is related to water use. The snail that carries the illness is to be found in slow moving or stagnant bodies of water and the parasite carried within the snail enters the body by penetrating the skin.
TRACHOMA & PERSONAL HYGIENE
Trachoma is the leading cause of preventable blindness worldwide. Transmission is via contact with discharge from the eyes of an infected person; a 25% reduction of trachoma can be achieved through provision of an adequate water supply for increased personal hygiene practices (Esrey et al, 1991), and improved sanitation has been shown to lower levels by 30% through reduction in fly populations which act as vectors for the infective agent and which breed in scattered human faeces from open defecation. (Emerson et al, 2004)
A 2009 study conducted by Zambia’s Ministry of Health and supported by Operation Eyesight found that trachoma was 28 per cent more likely to strike in households that do not have proper toilet facilities.
SKIN DISEASES & HYGIENE
There is a whole range of skin infections that can occur but the most common form of skin infection here is scabies. Scabies is a skin condition caused by a mite called Sarcoptes scabiei. The female mites tunnel into the skin and lay eggs. The eggs hatch into mites after a few days. Most of the symptoms are due to a skin reaction to the mites. The spread of mites occur from poor hygiene practices, sharing of clothes, and dirty living conditions.
Kosek, M., Bern, C., Guerrant, R.L. (2003). The global burden of diarrhoeal disease, as estimated from studies published between 1992 and 2000. Bull. WHO 81(3): 197-204.
Esrey, S.A., Potash, J.B., Roberts, L., Shiff, C. (1991). Effects of improved water supply and sanitation on ascariasis, diarrhoea, dracunculiasis, hookworm infection, schistosomiasis, and trachoma. Bull. WHO 69(5): 609-621.
Fewtrell, L., Kaufmann, R.B., Kay, D., Enanoria, W., Haller, L., Colford, J.M. (2005). Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions to reduce diarrhoea in less developed countries: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Infectious Diseases 5: 42-52. Chan, M.S. (1997). The global burden of intestinal nematode infections – fifty years on. Parasitology Today 13(11): 438-443.
Cairncross, Sandy et al (2010). Water, Sanitation And Hygiene For The Prevention Of Diarrhoea International Journal of Epidemiology 2010
Bartram and Cairncross Hygiene, Sanitation, and Water: Forgotten Foundations of Health. PLoS Medicine November 2010