Health Literacy, Health Communications, Health Education
Water Chlorination and Health Education: Collaborating to Decrease Water Contamination and Water-Related Illness in Rural Peru
Katherine Garcia-Rosales (School of Public Health (UMD) Undergraduate Student)
A team of public health and engineering students and faculty worked collaboratively to conduct qualitative and quantitative research in a rural Andean community in Peru of approximately 62 households. The project consisted of three phases: 1) determining project feasibility and assessing the health needs of the community, 2) implementing a water chlorination system and educational health interventions, and 3) evaluating impact. Five water samples were collected to measure E.coli and fecal coliform pre and post implementation. To assess the community needs, in-person interviews and a focus group evaluated the knowledge of proper water usage, hygiene practices and use of the chlorination system. Educational workshops covered oral rehydration therapy, proper water use, and basic hygiene. In the first phase, water samples tested positive for E.coli and fecal coliform. Seven months after the implementation the water tested negative for bacterial contamination. In addition, the number of diarrhea related visits to the health clinic went down from four to two cases. The data collected throughout all phases of the project show the water quality improved and the number of diarrheal cases decreased. The results suggest that collaborative public health and engineering projects, such as the implementation of this water chlorination system and health education program, can have a positive effect on community health.
Importance to public health: