Category Archives: water

World Water Day: Water and Neglected Tropical Diseases

The United Nations introduces us to the challenges of water. “Water is the essential  building block of life. But it is more than just essential to quench thirst or protect health; water is vital for creating jobs and supporting economic, social, and human development.” Unfortunately, “Today, there are over 663 million people living without a safe water supply close to home, spending countless hours queuing or trekking to distant sources, and coping with the health impacts of using contaminated water.”

Haiti: Importance of Water to prevent STH

Many of the infectious health challenges known as Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) have issues of water associated with their transmission. This may relate to scarcity of water and subsequent hygiene problems. It may relate to water quality and contamination. It may also relate to water in the lifecycle of vectors that carry some of the diseases.

Even though water is crucial to the control of many NTDs, it is not often the feature of large scale interventions. The largest current activity against five NTDs is mass drug administration (MDA) on an annual or more frequent basis to break the transmission cycle.  Known as diseases that respond to preventive chemotherapy (PCT) through MDA, these include lymphatic filariasis (LF), trachoma, onchocerciasis, schistosomiasis and soil transmitted helminths (STH) has been undertaken for over 10 years.

We have recently passed the Fifth Anniversary of the London Declaration on NTDs, which calls for the control of ten of the many these scourges The Declaration calls for “the elimination “by 2020 lymphatic filariasis, leprosy, sleeping sickness (human African trypanosomiasis) and blinding trachoma.” Another water-borne NTD, guinea worm, should be eradicated soon. Two of the elimination targets are part of MDA efforts, LF and trachoma.

Cameroon: mapping the community to detect NTD transmission sites

Ministries of Health and their donor and NGO partners who deliver MDA against the 5 diseases in endemic countries express interest in coordinating with water and sanitation for health (WASH) programs. People do recognize the value of collaboration between NTD MDA efforts and WASH projects, but these may be located in other ministries and organizations.

The long term implementation of WASH efforts is seen as a way to prevent resurgence of trachoma, for example, and  strongly compliment efforts to control STH and schistosomiasis. Hopefully before the 10th Anniversary of the London Declaration the vision of “ensuring access to clean water and basic sanitation,” can also be achieved.

Finally as a reminder our present tools for the control of Zika and Dengue fevers relies almost entirely on safe and protected household and community sources of water to prevent breeding of disease carrying Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. If we neglect water, we will continue to experience neglected tropical diseases. Hopefully the topic of water and NTDs will feature prominently at next months global partners meeting hosted by the World Health Organization.

 

The quantitative impact assessment of community health projects in selected African countries by using Lives Saved Tool

Park 1Chulwoo (Charles) Park who has been undertaking the Masters of Science in Public Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health is sharing herein his experiences with the LiST tool in African countries.

The Lives Saved Tool (LiST) is a computer-based tool that estimates the impact of scaled up health intervention packages in a quantitative manner. By modeling complex mathematical relationship of coverage difference among interventions for maternal, neonatal and child health (MNCH), LiST shows us quantitative results, such as mortality rates, incidence rates, number of cases averted, percentage of stunting and wasting, number of cause-specific death and lives saved.

Especially, LiST can project and run multiple scenarios for subnational target population in the country not only to evaluate existing MNCH project but also prioritize investments for the future based on the quantitative results. World Vision International (WVI) has implemented LiST analysis to strengthen its evaluation and strategic planning methods for MNCH projects since 2013.

Recently, the mid-term evaluations for Access to Infant and Maternal (AIM)-Health project in Kenya, Mauritania, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda were conducted through mixed methods analysis, both qualitative research (in-depth interview and focused group discussion) and quantitative research (LiST) from June to September of 2014.

Park 2Subsequently, LiST was solely utilized to quantify the retrospective impact of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) project in Southern Africa Region (SAR), Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia between 2010 and 2014. The significant impact indicates that the combined effect of all five WVI WASH interventions (improved water source, home water connection, improved sanitation, hand washing with soap, and hygienic disposal of children’s stools) have prevented 989,745 diarrhoeal cases among the under-five target population of 506,019 children.

In other words, every single young child prevented 1.96 cases of diarrhea, and prevention rate for diarrhoea was 13% throughout the implementation period. Another results indicate that WVI’s WASH project contributed a 209% mean increase in percentage of under-five lives saved and 15.5% mean decrease in under-five mortality rates across SAR.

  • Chulwoo (Charles) Park, MSPH ’15
  • Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Department of International Health, Division of Global Disease Epidemiology and Control
  • For more information write to e-mail: park@jhmi.edu

Satellite Mapping, an important step toward malaria control and elimination in Nigeria

Omede Ogu of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health reports on efforts to undertake mapping of malaria in the country as a basis for better planning of control and eventual elimination efforts.

surface water 1The National Malaria Elimination Program (NMEP) has been meeting with the team from the National Space Research and Development Agency (NASRDA). Progress on pilot malaria mapping in Niger State is being reviewed, though the study is yet to be concluded. NMEP is also looking at opportunities that exist to expand their initial mapping to cover the whole of the country. Discussions are underway on next steps and development of a road map or a framework for the study going forward.

NASRDA explained that the current mapping effort was aimed is to use satellite-based technology to map surface water for Malaria Control in North-central Nigeria with Niger State as a Pilot study. They noted that data in inaccessible locations such as the marshy areas, thick forests, rugged terrain etc. were previously unavailable for relevant environmental policy and decision making in the region and Nigeria.

In addition is will be possible to do infrastructural mapping and inventory of health care facilities, in order to identify and assess the state of health care facilities, how accessible and future areas of need provision of these facilities in the country.

So far NASRDA has identified settlements, and locations of hospitals and health centres throughout Niger State using Global Positioning System (GPS). They have also identified water bodies and wetlands locations throughout the state.

Finally they are developing a map of Surface Water and wetlands in the state showing these in relation to locations of settlements, hospitals and health centres. NMEP is planning to link with colleagues doing similar mapping in Kenya.

NMEP plans to have the final report of the study ready by October for dissemination. Major partners with funding lines in their 2014 work plans for this study are the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) and NASRDA. Additional funding and support is being sought.

Kenya already is using its mapping to focus appropriate malaria interventions. All countries will benefit in better mapping for targeting their malaria control and elimination efforts.

Water for Malaria

As today is World Water Day it is time to reflect on the relationship between water and malaria. As USAID notes, “The impact of water on all aspects of development is undeniable: A safe drinking water supply, adequate sanitation and hygiene, management of water resources, and improvement of water productivity can help change the lives of millions.”

DSCN9055aThe key to the relationship between water and malaria is the word safe. The breeding of the malaria carrying anopheles mosquito species certainly depends on unsafe collections of “clean” but unmoving sources water that could range from a village pond to a cow hoof print. During certain seasons these are ubiquitous.

Seid Tiku Mereta and colleagues showed us recently that humans may be their own worst enemies when it comes to producing mosquito larval breeding sites.  They found that Anopheline mosquito larvae showed a widespread distribution and especially occurred in small human-made aquatic habitats… In contrast, anopheline mosquito larvae were found to be less prominently present in permanent larval habitats. This could be attributed to the high abundance and diversity of natural predators and competitors suppressing the mosquito population densities.”

The drier parts of northern Benin Republic were studied by Renaud Govoetchan and team.  They also found that human activity created water sources in urban areas in the dry season thereby “maintaining the breeding of anopheles larvae and the malaria transmission.” In the rural areas village ponds provided opportunity for dry season mosquito breeding. Although transmission was lower in the dry season and in the urban areas, it still persisted thanks to human water use behaviors and persistence of unsafe rural water sources.

DSCN8908From the above we can see that safe water alone would not prevent malaria. Water use behaviors must also be targeted. That said, it is interesting how water may also be related to other malaria interventions such as insecticide treated nets and case management with local herbs.

A major factor that influences the durability of the so-called long lasting insecticide treated nets (LLINs) is how often people wash them.  Frequent washing of curtains, bed sheets and of course personal clothing is so routine that villagers may not even consider this hygenic behavior to be harmful. In fact it reduces the potency of the insecticide-treated nets.

Virgile Gnanguenon and co-researchers found that LLINs that might be expected to last 3 years if they were only occasionally washed were in fact only likely to be functional for two years or less. Water issues were prominent among the five factors that predicted net integrity and survival: “washing frequency, proximity to water for washing, location of kitchen, type of cooking fuel, and low net maintenance.”

Finally because primary health care does not reach all, community members still use their indigenous herbs to treat malaria. A recent study by Sabine Montcho and colleagues found an unexpected risk from the herbs. In Benin the plant Senna rotundifolia Linn. is commonly used for malaria treatment. Unfortunately the researchers learned that it was contaminated with lead and cadmium. “In terms of risk assessment through the consumption of Senna, the values recorded for lead were nine times higher with children and six times higher with adults than the daily permissive intake.” Polluted water does not have to be drunk directly to harm people.

Our relationships with water and malaria and the connection between the two are complex. World Water Day should provide us an opportunity to consider how our interventions ranging from appropriate use and care of LLINs, to provision of appropriate malaria treatment to larvae control and environmental management need to take into consideration the importance of water to human survival and disease prevention.