142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition

Annual Meeting Recordings are now available for purchase

A Nursing/ Engineering Collaboration for Improved Water Supply and Sanitation in Rural Cameroon

142nd APHA Annual Meeting and Exposition (November 15 - November 19, 2014): http://www.apha.org/events-and-meetings/annual
Wednesday, November 19, 2014 : 9:20 AM - 9:45 AM

Lisa Hilmi, PhD(c), MPH, RN , School of Nursing, Center for Global Women's Health, University of Pennsylvania, School of Nursing, Philadelphia, PA
Lauren Ballester, Student , School of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, School of Engineering, Philadelphia, PA
Tony Sauder, PE, PG, MEng , School of Engineering, Pennoni Associates INc; University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Larry Fan, Student , The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Megan Doherty, MPH , International & Local Service Learning Program, School of Engineering, University of Pennsylvania,, Philadelphia, PA
John Keenan, PhD , Engineering, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Background/ Issue

Currently, Cameroon’s rural water access rate is 47% and sanitation access rate, 17%.  In Bome, Cameroon, seven villages are connected with variable access, to a water system. Some villagers travel long distances for water and quality fluctuates as the water is collected from ground and surface sources. Latrines are sparsely located in villages and schools, with limited hand-washing facilities.  


A public health nurse, expert water engineers, a public health manager, and engineering and business students, conducted assessments and implementation trips over 6 years, partnering with a Cameroon non-governmental organization. Water quality testing was performed, GPS access points obtained, community focus groups conducted. Women cited diarrheal disease, water access and quality, lack of electricity, as priorities. Water structures, storage and distribution systems were improved; latrines were constructed. Health and sanitation education occurred and a maintenance manual for the water systems was provided.

Lessons Learned

Public Health nurses can successfully collaborate with engineers to address global health issues in water, sanitation and hygiene. Local partners and community involvement are critical for sustainability and ownership. Gender perspectives are critical, as women may have more exposure to the water needs in the community. Engineering students can gain cultural awareness, technical skills, public health training and engage with global communities.


More collaboration between engineers and nurses in global health is needed. Engineering and nursing students can gain lifelong skills and cultural awareness with global health implementation projects.  Capacity building of local partners is essential. Technical constraints are secondary to social challenges.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Assessment of individual and community needs for health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related nursing

Learning Objectives:
Explain how living in rural Cameroon can affect overall health, water and sanitation access, water quality and hygiene practices. Describe 4 methods of community based mobilization in rural Africa for water and sanitation projects. Identify 4 activities that public health nurses can utilize, in collaboration with engineers, to improve health. Discuss sustainable methods of water and sanitation programs in rural Cameroon. Explain different methods of engaging nursing, public health and engineering students in global health.

Keyword(s): Water & Health, Nurses/Nursing

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a global health professional nurse with over 25 years of global health experience. The topic of the abstract involves my work as a professional mentor with engineering students at the University of Pennsylvania. I have an MPH and am currently in the 3rd year of my doctoral studies in Nursing. I am also the Course Director for a Global Health Policy and Delivery course at U Penn's MAster's in Public Health program.
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.