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Preliminary results about the Health Impact of a Water and Sanitation Program in Tangier (Morocco)

Congress: 2008
Author(s): Catherine Arfi, Bruno Detournay, Olivier Gilbert, Anne-Sophie Lepeuple, Ahmed Bendali

Keyword(s): Health Impact, water supply, sanitation, epidemiology
Article: Poster:
AbstractIntroduction: Water and sanitation are ones of the primary drivers of public health. Health status is closely related to the quality of drinking water (water-borne diseases), to its scarcity (water-scarce diseases) and to the efficacy of wastewater treatment. A very large water program was designed for the 2004-2008 period to improve water supply and sanitation coverage in the urban coastal districts of Tangier (750,000 inhabitants). At the same time, a monitoring study was undertaken to assess the health benefit of this program and is ongoing. Methods: An epidemiological register was implemented in 17 health facilities in order to follow the incidence of three water-related diseases: diarrhoea in children under 5, conjunctivitis and skin diseases in the overall population. At the same time, twice- yearly surveys were conducted in two pilot districts which had no water supply other than wells/fountains nor wastewater systems, at the beginning of the study. Each time, 70 households (≈400 people) were questioned to qualify water use, hygiene practices, health outcomes, exposure to sea bathing. Water samples were also collected for microbiological analyses. Finally, a fortnightly monitoring of the microbiological quality of sea water and beaches sand was also set up. Results: Available data were collected before the widespread opening of the water supply and waste water system. From September 2004 to December 2005, 2,780 cases of diarrhoea in children (1% severe), 2,112 cases of conjunctivitis and 2,016 cases of skin infection (bacterial or fungic infection) were treated in the public health care facilities of Tangier. One of the two surveyed areas was characterised by the opening of a new fountain which markedly reduced 1) the average distance between homes and the nearest water source from 580m to 130m; 2) the percentage of contaminated drinking water from 93% to 46%; 3) the percentage of children under 5 with diarrhoea in the last month from 45% to 26%. Conclusion: Waiting for the end of civil engineering works these first promising results need to be confirmed both for the health impact and the quality of drinking and sea water.
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