Influence of water sanitation and hygiene practices on diseases Essay Example
Diseases affect human population and to a greater extent are caused by poor sanitation and hygiene. Pathogens present in water and stool when it enters into water meant for domestic use results in a number of food borne and water-borne diseases. Regardless of the geographical environment, diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery and diarrhea are associated with poor hygiene and sanitation (Waddington et al., 2009). Common water and sanitation related diseases are protozoa, bacteria and viruses that raise important public health issues. Research shows that lack of sanitation facilities and adequate drinking water alongside poor hygiene have negative impact on the disease burden among adults and children in their millions (Hutton, 2012).
As a result, it has negative repercussions on well-being, productivity and aggravates poverty. However, limited research has been done to establish the effect of water sanitation and hygiene on the spread of certain diseases. Access to safe water and sanitation facilities has the potential to increase the overall health of communities and individuals from deaths and disease burden. This study was designed to test the above hypothesis and cast more light into how water supply and hygiene and sanitation influence the pattern of disease spread. Specifically, it helped to establish whether governments through their departments of public health can promote sanitation and hygiene to decrease healthcare costs and reduce mortality.
Millions of people around the world lack access to safe drinking water and better hygiene rendering them vulnerable to water and food contamination. Curtis and Cairncross (2003) observe that safeguarding the well-being and health of communities and individuals is largely influenced by the approach to safe water, hygiene and sanitation. On the contrary, they found that more than 1.5 million children under the age of five due annually due to diarrheal diseases. Communities that intend to stop the spread of bacterial diseases should have sound and safe water and sanitation practices.
According to Norris et al. (2012), people practicing unsafe disposal of faeces are at a higher risk of bacterial, viral and parasitic intestinal infections. A report by UNICEF shows that lack of access to good hygiene, sanitation and safe drinking water contribute to 88 percent of diarrheal deaths globally. These findings are consistent with the recommendations of World Health Organization (2010) that water, sanitation and hygiene programming have the capacity to lower child deaths by 65 percent.
In developing countries, people with sanitation and hygiene related diseases put a lot of pressure on health systems and fill half the hospital beds (Spears, 2012). This is because most developing countries have limited capacity to prevent and control the spread of water and food-borne diseases. Moreover, Humphrey (2009) affirms that such diseases result in stunting, cognitive delays and undernutrition in children which eventually lower their productivity in their adulthood. Nonetheless, a number of interventions such as the use of nutritional supplements and hand washing soap have the potential to improve sanitation and stunting.
A ten point questionnaire was administered to 90 randomly selected men and women living in a depressed neighborhood Central Bangladesh. The reliability scale showed a reliability coefficient (Cronbach’s alpha = 0.87) for the following variables; rate of hospital admissions, quality of water and sanitation and the level hygiene practices. The survey consisted of questions about the rate of hospital admissions at a local hospital that captured the types of diseases that the victims suffered. The survey was prepared on a Likert scale and inferential statistics were used. A total of 68 respondents replied the questionnaires and their responses were captured and represented in the table below. The Pearson correlation measures were analyzed from the data to show the strength of predictability between the three variables. The rate of hospital admissions considered cases of cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, hepatitis, intestinal worms among other diseases related to water and food contamination.
|Quality of water and sanitation||Level of hygiene practices||Rate of hospital admissions|
|Quality of water and sanitation|
|Level of hygiene practices|
|Rate of hospital admissions|
* Correlation is significant at p<.05 level (2-tailed)
** Correlation is significant at p<.01 level (2-tailed)
*** Correlation is significant at p<.001 level (2-tailed)
The findings above show that there is a significant correlation between the rate of hospital admissions and the quality of water and sanitation (.475***; p <0.001) and the level of hygiene practices (.603**; p <0.01). This shows that water and sanitation as well as level of hygiene practices influence diseases spread.
The results above show that there is a relationship between the rate of hospital admissions for water and food-borne diseases and the causal factors which are low levels of hygiene and poor water and sanitation practices. These findings are consistent with those of Spears (2012) that people with sanitation and hygiene related diseases put a lot of pressure on health systems and fill half the hospital beds. It is also consistent with the findings of Hutton (2012) that lack of sanitation facilities and adequate drinking water alongside poor hygiene has negative impact on the disease burden among adults and children in their millions. The results also show a significant positive correlation between the quality of water and sanitation and the level of hygiene practices. These are consistent with the findings of the Human Development Report (2006) that lack of capacity and knowledge on safe hygiene practices are more likely to results in poor quality of water and sanitation in developing countries. The results also indicate that individuals and communities that practice safe water and sanitation and good hygiene practices are less likely to experience diseases and deaths.
The study shows that poor water and sanitation has the potential to increase disease spread among communities and individuals. As a result, populations experience deaths and disease burden due to excessive pressure on healthcare and gravity of diseases especially diarrheal diseases in children. Besides, low level s of hygiene is likely to escalate the quality of water and sanitation practices. It is recommended that people should practice safe disposal of human wastes, hand washing and boiling or treating water before drinking.
Curtis, V. & Cairncross, C. (2003). Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhea risk in the community: a systemic review. Lancet Infectious Diseases, 3(5): Pg.275-281.
Human Development Report (2006). Beyond scarcity: power, poverty and the global water crisis. UNDP. New York, New York.
Humphrey, J. (2009). Child under-nutrition, tropical enteropathy, toilets, and hand washing. Lancet, 374: 1032-35.
Norris et al. (2012). Social and economic impact review on Neglected Tropical Diseases. Economic policy and briefing paper. Hudson Institute’s Center for Science in Public Policy and The Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Spears, D. (2012). How much international variation in child height can sanitation explain? World Bank. Policy Research working paper. 2012. http:// www.princeton.edu/rpds/papers/Spears_Height_and_Sanitation.pdf.pdf.
Waddington, et al. (2009). Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Interventions to Combat Childhood Diarrhoea in Developing Countries. International Initiative for Impact Evaluation. Synthetic Review 001. 2009.
World Health Organization (2010). Progress on Sanitation and Drinking-Water: 2010 Update. WHO/UNICEF.
More Important Things