The Link Between Disease and Environment

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The Johns Hopkins and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies published a report in 2009, which in Chapter 8, discusses the link between disease and the environment.  Chapter 8 offers such a deep justification and need for our product that we are republishing it here on our website.  Some signficiant excerpts are below:

"The United Nations has declared that access to safe water and sanitation is a human right that applies in times of peace and in emergencies. In emergency settings, people often leave their homes in search of safer surroundings. In many instances, the water, sanitation and hygiene conditions of new surroundings might not be adequate. In other instances, people might be left in their home surroundings but with destroyed or damaged societal and physical infrastructure including water, sanitation and health care systems.

People affected by emergencies often suffer from malnourishment, stress, fatigue and other ailments including injuries. These conditions, coupled with unsanitary living conditions such as substandard sanitation, inadequate water supplies and poor hygiene, make disaster-affected people especially vulnerable to disease. This chapter discusses the importance of improving water, sanitation and hygiene in emergency settings.

Few emergencies leave people displaced for only a short time. Most emergencies last years. Decisions made early in the    emergency,    therefore,    often    have    long-term consequences. Since emergencies often result in years of displacement,    this    chapter    focuses    primarily    on environmental improvements that address the longer-term needs of disaster-affected populations."

Diarrhoeal diseases, acute respiratory infection, measles, malaria and malnutrition are the most common causes of death in emergencies. All these causes of death are preventable. Hygiene plays an important role in preventing these diseases. The majority of these preventive measures are related to environmental conditions: appropriate shelter and site planning, clean water, good sanitation, vector control, personal protection such as (insecticide-treated nets, personal hygiene and health promotion.

These measures address conditions in the environment, known as ‘risk factors’ because they can cause disease. It is important to understand the relationship between disease and environmental risk factors because interventions must target risk factors properly. Table 8-1 provides an overview of environment-related diseases and environmental risk factors that contribute to disease. It is worth noting that although malnutrition is not an environment-related disease, it is linked to diarrhoea because malnutrition increases the severity of diarrhoea while diarrhoea can cause malnutrition."

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Chapter_8_Water_Sanitation_and_Hygiene_in_Emergencies.pdf1.06 MB