211844 Understanding the impact of unsafe water within the context of feeding practices: Findings from Bome-Ngyenmbo, Cameroon

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 3:10 PM

Joanna Holsten, MPH, MS, RN , School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Wilmington, DE
In Cameroon, 12.6 % of deaths are related to water, sanitation, and hygiene according to the WHO. Proper water treatment and feeding practices are key factors in improving these statistics; yet, efforts to improve water supplies and hygiene are not integrated with efforts to improve feeding practices and overall diets. Based on surveys, focus groups, and systematic observations in the Bome-Ngyenmbo region of Cameroon, we found that 40% of households used non-pipe-borne water sources, including wells, springs, and streams. Only 6 households with children under 5 treated drinking water in any way. In 65% of the reported cases of diarrhea, the household used non-pipe-borne water. Diarrhea was not reported among children < 12 months. Mothers reported breastfeeding for 12-27 months and treating water during the infant's first year, but stopped due to lack of time. Data suggest that cessation of breastfeeding and water treatment coincide. Mothers expressed concern about children consuming unsafe foods and water. Beyond water supply installations and individual education about hygiene, both practical social interventions such as women's co-ops for child supervision, and economic collaborations, to reduce the women's burden in this region are needed.

Learning Objectives:
Discuss why mothers expressed concern about children consuming unsafe foods and water.

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