Category Archives: Sanitation and Health

Study links infant diarrhea to telomere shortening and troubles later in life

Study links infant diarrhea to telomere shortening and troubles later in life. GeekWire, January 2017.

telomere-630x451

Telomeres, highlighted in green, serve as protective DNA caps for the cell’s chromosomes. (Illustration courtesy of BioViva USA)

Frequent bouts of diarrhea can be bad news for babies, even decades later: A new study has found a correlation between childhood infections and significant shortening of telomeres, a phenomenon that’s linked to the cellular aging process.

The findings, published today in the American Journal of Human Biology, point to a potential linkage between the environmental and genetic factors that play a role in human health.

They also point to the importance of initiatives aimed at curbing infant diarrhea, such as those funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Researchers led by University of Washington anthropologist Dan Eisenberg found the correlation by sifting through the Cebu Longitudinal Health and Nutrition Survey, a database that tracked the health of more than 3,000 infants born in the Philippines in 1983 and 1984.

The babies’ mothers provided details about their children’s health and feeding habits every two months, from birth through the age of 2. The data included statistics showing how often the mothers breastfed their babies, and how often the babies suffered from diarrhea, a sign of infection.

Read the complete article.

Unsafe Child Feces Disposal is Associated with Environmental Enteropathy and Impaired Growth

Unsafe Child Feces Disposal is Associated with Environmental Enteropathy and Impaired Growth.  Journal of Pediatrics, June 2016.

Authors: Christine Marie George, Lauren Oldja, Shwapon Biswas, et al.

Objective – To investigate the relationship between unsafe child feces disposal, environmental enteropathy, and impaired growth, we conducted a prospective cohort study of 216 young children in rural Bangladesh.

Study design – Using a prospective cohort study design in rural Bangladesh, unsafe child feces disposal, using the Joint Monitoring Program definition, was assessed using 5-hour structured observation by trained study personnel as well as caregiver reports. Anthropometric measurements were collected at baseline and at a 9-month follow-up. Stool was analyzed for fecal markers of environmental enteropathy: alpha-1-antitrypsin, myeloperoxidase, neopterin (combined to form an environmental enteropathy disease activity score), and calprotectin.

Findings – Among 216 households with young children, 84% had an unsafe child feces disposal event during structured observation and 75% had caregiver reported events. There was no significant difference in observed unsafe child feces disposal events for households with or without an improved sanitation option (82% vs 85%, P = .72) or by child’s age (P = .96). Children in households where caregivers reported unsafe child feces disposal had significantly higher environmental enteropathy scores (0.82-point difference, 95% CI 0.11-1.53), and significantly greater odds of being wasted (weight-for-height z score <2 SDs) (9% vs 0%, P = .024). In addition, children in households with observed unsafe feces disposal had significantly reduced change in weight-for-age z-score (0.34 [95% CI 0.68, 0.01] and weight-for-height z score (0.52 [95% CI 0.98, 0.06]).

Conclusion – Unsafe child feces disposal was significantly associated with environmental enteropathy and impaired growth in a pediatric population in rural Bangladesh. Interventions are needed to reduce this high-risk behavior to protect the health of susceptible pediatric populations

Understanding Open Defecation in Rural India: Untouchability, Pollution, and Latrine Pits

Understanding Open Defecation in Rural India: Untouchability, Pollution, and Latrine Pits. Economic & Political Weekly, January 7, 2017.

Authors: Diane Coffey, Aashish Gupta, Payal Hathi, Dean Spears, Nikhil Srivastav, Sangita Vyas

India has far higher open defecation rates than other developing regions where people are poorer, literacy rates are lower, and water is relatively more scarce. In practice, government programmes in rural India have paid little attention in understanding why so many rural Indians defecate in the open rather than use affordable pit latrines.

Drawing on new data, a study points out that widespread open defecation in rural India is on account of beliefs, values, and norms about purity, pollution, caste, and untouchability that cause people to reject affordable latrines.

Future rural sanitation programmes must address villagers’ ideas about pollution, pit-emptying, and untouchability, and should do so in ways that accelerate progress towards social equality for Dalits rather than delay it.

Aditi Gupta Is Breaking Menstrual Taboos Through Her Comic Book Guide, Menstrupedia

Aditi Gupta Is Breaking Menstrual Taboos Through Her Comic Book Guide, Menstrupedia. India Times, January 18, 2017.

“Chumming” is one of the most natural biological processes that half of the world’s population experiences every month, yet most of us in India can’t gather enough courage to put away the euphemism and say the word, period. menstrupedia_1484728044

For many women in India and South Asia, being on their periods is a nightmare. Some are shunned from the kitchen, others are shunned from their home altogether. Other than the social stigma attached to menstruation, there is also a lack of awareness and sanitation, which then paves way for period myths and misconceptions.

According to Dasra, an organisation documenting the rights and welfare of women, 88% of India’s 355 million menstruating women do not have access to sanitary pads. Also, an estimated 23% of girls in the country drop out of school when they begin menstruating.

Read the complete article.

UNESCO funds Dunedin shadow puppet film in Indonesia about hygiene

Published on Jan 16, 2017
UNESCO along with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade are financially backing a trans-Tasman project to improve hygiene in Indonesia.

An educational film is being made in Dunedin featuring Javanese shadow puppets who tell the tale of evil bacteria.

Today some top musicians began adding the soundtrack.

 

USAID – Infographic: Tackling Water Scarcity and Sanitation Challenges Across the Middle East

Infographic: Tackling Water Scarcity and Sanitation Challenges Across the Middle East, December 15, 2016. USAID. MENA_Water_infographic-V3.png

The American people, through USAID, have been investing in the water sector across the Middle East to improve access to clean water, reduce water losses, facilitate sustainable use of limited resources and improve access to sanitation.

Egypt
2.2 Million People – Since 2008, USAID invested in water systems and wastewater treatment plants, helping 2.2 million people gain access to clean water and sanitation.

850 Kilometers of Water Pipelines – Since 2012, USAID funded construction of 850+ kilometers of pipelines that serve 1.8+ million people in rural areas –many of whom received access to drinking water and sanitation for the first time.

Capacity Building – USAID supported billing and operation systems to strengthen and build the capacity of institutions.

Read the complete article.

Slum health is not urban health: why we must distinguish between the two

Slum health is not urban health: why we must distinguish between the two. Econo Times, January 8, 2017.

We live in an urban century. Already more than 50% of the global population lives in urban areas. The United Nations estimates that by 2030 five billion of the world’s population of eight billion will be urban. Most of the growth in urban areas is expected to occur in the developing countries of Africa and Asia, continuing a trend seen in the past decade.

Rapid urbanisation in developing countries has been characterised by an accompanying proliferation of slum areas. Cities such as Nairobi, Kenya; Mumbai, India and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil are home to some of the world’s largest slum areas. Sub-Saharan Africa has an especially high number of slum inhabitants: 62% of its urban population lives in slums.

Slums constitute a large part of today’s urban reality and will likely persist as a significant feature in our urban future for decades to come. By 2030, projections indicate that two billion of the global urban population will live in slums, mostly in Africa and Asia.

Despite increased global awareness about the presence and persistence of slums, the health of their inhabitants is a little-studied phenomenon. The health of the urban poor, people with low socio-economic status living in urban areas, is usually conflated with that of slum dwellers. However, health outcomes for these two groups of urban populations often differ given the spatial differences of the areas they live in.

Slums are characterised by densely packed settlements with inadequate provision of services and infrastructure. These include sanitation, water, electricity, waste management and security among others. These conditions expose residents of slum areas to the spread of disease and poor health outcomes that are fuelled by their intimately shared environments.

Neighbourhood effects

The mechanism through which densely packed environments affect slum residents’ health is termed neighbourhood effects.

The influence of neighbourhood effects may result in poor health outcomes for slum inhabitants in comparison to non-slum dwellers. Studies done by the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) have shown that child mortality is higher in slums than in non-slum areas and even in rural regions.

Residents of slums are also likely to experience higher rates of undernutrition compared to those from non-slum areas. This may lead to stunted growth and development among children. There tends to be a high transmission rate of infectious diseases in these overcrowded areas because waste collection, water and sanitation are lacking.

Read the complete article.