228586 Practices surrounding water use among community members in the Dominican Republic: Implications for social justice and public health

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cherķe S. Blair, MPH , David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California - Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
Zobeida Bonilla, PhD, MPH , Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Fernando Ona, PhD, MPH , Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
BACKGROUND: Despite significant population growth in recent years, many communities in the Dominican Republic have not experienced a corresponding investment in infrastructure, such as sanitation. Therefore, access to water is critical for everyday life, for the sustainability of established and emerging economies, and for social justice. METHODS: A convenience sample of 88 households throughout the Constanza municipality was selected. Interviews with heads of households and ethnographic observations were conducted to obtain information about access to safe and clean water and to observe cultural practices surrounding water. A household survey was administered to examine self-reported diarrheal morbidity, water handling practices, and healthcare-seeking behavior. Survey questions were selected from the Dominican Republic DHS. Communities were GPS tagged. Water samples were collected from households and selected environmental sources (e.g. aqueducts) were analyzed for E. coli and coliform bacteria. RESULTS: Despite governmental potable water treatment recommendations, the majority (60.2%) of households reported not taking any measures to sanitize their water, which accounted for the majority of individuals self-reporting diarrheal disease (59.8%). Logistic regression analysis indicates that adults aged 65+ are at highest risk for diarrheal disease. Although aqueducts carrying potable water to the communities lacked measurable coliform bacteria contamination, most households (90.1%) had some contamination in the drinking water. CONCLUSIONS: This study revealed poor water quality and sanitation practices surrounding drinking water. Findings from this study will be utilized for an education program to encourage proper water storage and sanitation with the goal of reducing diarrheal disease and increasing potable water sanitation.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe cultural practices surrounding water use. 2. Identify links between water use practices and diarrheal morbidity. 3. Describe the components of a health education and water sanitation intervention designed to address water quality problems.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have several years of experience conducting research.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.