Impact of WASH in improving health of school children reviewed

More attention should be given to the assessment of nutrition practices when assessing the impact of WASH on the health of school children. We also don’t know enough about the long term impact of WASH interventions on child health. These are some of the conclusions that researchers from the Center for Global Health and Development at the the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) drew from a review of the literature [1].

Dr. Ashish Joshi and research assistant Chioma Amadi reviewed the impact of water treatment, hygiene, and sanitary interventions on improving child health outcomes such as absenteeism, infections, knowledge, attitudes, and practices and adoption of point-of-use water treatment.  For their final analysis they selected 15 peer-reviewed English-language studies published between 2009 and 2012 that focused on the effects of access to safe water, hand washing facilities, and hygiene education among school-age children.

Eleven of the reviewed were conducted in developing countries and eight were rural based. The child’s age, gender, grade level, socioeconomic index, access to hygiene and sanitary facilities, and prior knowledge of hygiene practices were significantly associated with the outcomes. Nutrition practices which are key factors associated with the outcomes were rarely assessed.

Read the full open access study.

[1] Joshi, A. and Amadi, C., 2013. Impact of water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions on improving health outcomes among school children. Journal of environmental and public health, 2013 (article ID 984626), 10 pp. doi:10.1155/2013/984626

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