252666 Drinking water, sanitation and safety as social determinants of health in the colonias of west Texas

Monday, October 31, 2011: 5:30 PM

Marcelo Korc, PhD , US-Mexico Border Office, Pan-American Health Organization, El Paso, TX
The initiative utilized a community-based survey on drinking water, sanitation, and safety perceptions of community residents in two border colonias of west Texas. Colonias are mostly unincorporated communities located along the 2,000 mile-long border with Mexico and are characterized by high poverty rates and substandard living conditions. Texas has the largest number of colonias and the largest colonia population. Through the collaboration of the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), Project Vida-a federally qualified health center-, and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), a survey was developed and implemented in colonia Revolución in El Paso County and colonia Villa Alegre of Ft. Hancock in Hudspeth County, Texas. This is part of an integrated health strategy to address social determinants of health in border colonias coordinated by Texas state agencies with support of the PAHO/WHO. Drinking water, sanitation, and safety have been identified as the most significant determinants of health in the selected colonias. Households in these colonias are not connected to piped drinking water systems and use septic tanks as sanitation systems. In addition, with the recent increase of border violence this initiative also identified colonia residents' perceptions on safety in their community. The analysis shows that a colonia household can spend between 15 to 25 percent of its monthly income on water usage, whereas international guidelines recommend that no more than three to five percent of the monthly income be spent on water. In addition, it shows a lack of certification and maintenance of septic systems. The analysis also shows that residents usually feel safe in their communities but perceive that more policing is necessary to prevent crime.

Learning Areas:
Diversity and culture
Environmental health sciences

Learning Objectives:
Describe health determinants in vulnerable communities along the U. S. side of the border. Discuss strategies to improve health conditions in colonias in an integrated manner.

Keywords: Water, Rural Communities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I coordinate the sustainable development and environmental health cooperation program at the U.S.-Mexico Border Office of the Pan American Health Organization.
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.

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