Reducing childhood illness – fostering growth : an integrated home-based intervention package (IHIP) to improve indoor-air pollution, drinking water quality and child nutrition

March 25, 2015 · 0 comments

Reducing childhood illness – fostering growth : an integrated home-based intervention package (IHIP) to improve indoor-air pollution, drinking water quality and child nutrition, 2014.

Author: Hartinger Peña.

The goal of this PhD thesis was to assess the efficacy of an Integrated Environmental Home-based-Intervention Package (IHIP), comprised of an improved chimney stoves, access to safe drinking water from solar radiation household water treatment (SODIS), and hygiene education interventions, to reduce morbidity of acute respiratory infections, diarrhoea and poor growth of rural Peruvian children under three years of age. We implemented a community-randomised control field trial (cRCT) in 51 community’s clusters of the San Marcos Province, Cajamarca Region, Peru.

The cRCT was divided as follows: * Set-up, community selection and participatory intervention development: A pilot study was carried out for the selection of the interventions. These were adapted to local customs. The participatory phase is described in detail in Chapters 4 & 5. * Randomization, enrolment and baseline data collection: Chapter 6 describes the randomisation, enrolment and baseline in detail. * Carbon monoxide (CO) and Particulate Matter (PM2.5) household air quality assessment: Chapter 7 & 8 describe the efficacy of the OPTIMA-improved stove in improving household air quality in comparison to traditional open fire stoves. * Morbidity surveillance and field data acquisition: Morbidity data on the daily occurrence of signs and symptoms diarrhoea and respiratory illnesses of children was collected weekly. Anthropometric every two months and microbial data every 6 months. Chapter 9 describes the IHIP impact on morbidity reduction. * Workshops for a community-driven sustainable dessimination: Chapter 10 describes the community workshops and dissemination processes and dynamics within a socio-ecological framework.

Our community-randomised control trial demonstrated that IHIP reduced 22% per year of child diarrhoea (RR 0.78, 95% CI: 0.49-1.05) and found an odds ratio of 0.71 for diarrhoea prevalence (OR 0.71, 95%, CI: 0.47, 1.06). No effects on the frequency of acute lower respiratory infections (RR 0.99, 95% CI: 0.59, 1.65) or child’s growth rates were found when comparing study arms. We identified three reasons for this moderate diarrhoea reduction: i) hand-washing promotion was universally found in our setting, since it is being promoted by the health care centre; ii) SODIS compliance was moderate: only one third of the beneficiaries were using the method regularly; and iii) the increased awareness for the child’s needs linked to the control intervention, could induce improved child care behaviour.

The lack of effect on ALRI, could be linked to insufficient reduction in exposure to household air pollutants and high health service utilisation due to cultural beliefs and health seeking behavoiur. The household air pollution assessment study revealed only moderate reductions of 45% and 27% reduction of PM2.5 and CO, respectively for mothers’ personal exposure. This result was achieved in the best working stoves only. This may most likely not be sufficient to reduce impact on physician-diagnosed pneumonia. Community participatory meetings and surveys revealed that people’s decisions on adopting household-level environmental and hygiene interventions, was not only based on individual perceptions of their potential gains, but also depended on peer pressure and social network relations.

Individual perceptions regarding pollution levels of water and household air (transparent, odourless water vs dirty air environments) influenced perceived gains and the adoption of certain interventions. Access to information and encouragement from health-care providers and programme implementers also increased adoption. The IHIP had several additional benefits beyond health outcomes. Mother’s expressed that the stoves could reduce cooking time and wood consumption, which translated into cost saving. They also could perform other task while cooking. Regarding the kitchen sink, the mothers expressed it facilitated handwashing, and washing of utensils with detergent, generating a cleaner kitchen environment that fostered home and food hygiene.

We believe that the IHIP package motivated families to improve the kitchen living area in general. The high acceptance and sustained use was not only observed in the IHIP families but also in non-participating families that had copied the OPTIMA-improved stove after the community engagement in the desimination activities. We can also conclude that the IHIP package added to the family status, improved quality of life and impacted on their livelihoods, by empowering the beneficiary families. In conclusion, through this project we envisaged to demonstrate how an integrated package could be implemented at the household level in rural areas of Peru and its effect on health, quality of life and livelihoods. However, behaviour change for keeping maintanence of the interventions and use is necessary to achieve compliance, replication and sustainability.

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