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Implications of Latrines on Women’s and Girls’ Safety

Categories: Emergency Response and Recovery, toilet, water, women's/maternal health

Michelle Hynes and Michelle Dynes are epidemiologists in CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch.

Michelle Hynes and Michelle Dynes are epidemiologists in CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch.

Michelle Hynes and Michelle Dynes are epidemiologists in CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch. They took a moment out of their hectic schedules to talk about their work related to World Toilet Day. Dr. Hynes and Dr. Dynes have been involved in public health activities linking the safety of women and girls to the locations and privacy of latrines in humanitarian settings.

Michelle Dynes, EIS Officer/Epidemiologist, PhD, MPH, MSN, CNM, RN

Michelle Dynes, EIS Officer/Epidemiologist, PhD, MPH, MSN, CNM, RN

During CDC’s response following the Haiti earthquake, my team worked with the International Rescue Committee and the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster assistance to address the needs of women and girls in internally displaced persons’ camps in Port au Prince. Our team evaluated the use of handheld solar lights by women and girls. We wanted to better understand women and girls’ sense of safety in the camps and to know if the solar lights were acceptable, useful, and durable.

We found that one of the primary reasons women and girls left their shelters at night was to use latrines. In focus group discussions, women identified the latrines and the paths leading to the latrines as areas where they felt the least safe. Women and girls spokes about men hanging around the latrines and nearby paths. They described lack of proper lighting in the area. They also described latrines without privacy or doors to close the latrines, with men positioning themselves so they could see inside the facilities.

After the baseline surveys, the team distributed handheld solar lights to each household and followed up every other month to explore their impact. It turned out that the lights were extremely beloved, even precious. Women reported using them at least once a day, if not more often. They used them for going to latrine, to navigate dark pathways, and kids used them for homework at night.

The intervention was successful. We know these lights had high durability and were used often. Women and girls maintained the ability to use the lights when they needed them. We think, because the lights were introduced into the household in the context of safety for women and girls, that men and boys in the family respected their rights to use the devices.

The handheld solar light project is important for women and girls. Having access to lighting is critical. Think about how many times a day you turn a light on. Here in the U.S., you expect to be able to see in the parking lot or to turn on a light when you walk into the house after dark. Giving women and girls in displacement camps access to lighting also gives them control. This is a huge change for women and girls who feel like they have little control in their lives. As an intervention, it is easy to do.

Michelle Hynes, Epidemiologist, sexual and reproductive health lead for CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch

Michelle Hynes, Epidemiologist, sexual and reproductive health lead for CDC’s Emergency Response and Recovery Branch

The project that my colleague, Michelle Dynes, described is a great example of the ways in which violence against women and girls can be prevented or reduced in humanitarian settings. The location and lighting of public latrines is only one of the safety issues in displacement camps. As part of an inter-agency task team led by UNICEF and UNFPA, I have been working on the revision of guidelines for the integration of gender based violence (GBV) interventions in humanitarian settings. Many different sectors work in humanitarian settings, such as the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector. These sectors aren’t necessarily aware of actions they can take to increase the safety of women and girls or other at-risk groups, or feel confident in their ability to do so. Woman and girls who must walk into isolated areas to bathe, go to the bathroom, or get water are vulnerable to rape and other violent acts. The guidelines provide suggested actions the sector can take to reduce these risks. For example, those who are at risk can be included in the planning process for the location of the latrines and aspects of the construction such as lighting and privacy. Similar guidance will be given for all sectors working in humanitarian settings. By providing specific ways in which each sector can include GBV prevention and response activities into their normal tasks, the humanitarian field as a whole will have increased capacity to respond to and prevent this type of violence. We expect the revision of the GBV Guidelines to be completed by the end of 2014 with the official launch in 2015.

 

 

 

Saving Energy, Saving Lives: World Water Day 2014

Categories: infectious disease, water

 

Photo of a woman washing her clothes

Water is easy to take for granted until…you don’t have enough of it.

Ciara O’Reilly, PhD, Epidemiologist, CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch

Ciara O’Reilly, PhD, Epidemiologist, CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch

Jennifer Murphy, PhD, Microbiologist, CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch

Jennifer Murphy, PhD, Microbiologist, CDC’s Waterborne Disease Prevention Branch

But the simple and indisputable fact is this: a sufficient supply of clean water is a necessity for life and an essential ingredient in the battle against disease.

That’s why as populations grow and demands for water increase the focus on how it’s used and conserved become more important than ever before. And it’s why CDC is working in various ways to find ways of ensuring clean water and using it wisely.

It’s the reason that this year, on World Water Day, March 22, the theme of Water and Energy is more than just a throw-away phrase.

Fresh Voices From the Field: The Value of Our Global Health Work

Categories: child health, health systems strengthening, HIV/AIDS, noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), violence and injury, water, women's/maternal health

 

Chelsey Beane is pictured near the home of a traditional healer in Andruvu Village, in the Arua District of Uganda.

Chelsey Beane is pictured near the home of a traditional healer in Andruvu Village, in the Arua District of Uganda.

This is the fourth in our ongoing “Fresh Voices From the Field” series, where we hear from ASPPH (Association of School and Programs of Public Health) Global Health Fellows working throughout the world. Global Health Fellows are recent Master of Public Health or Doctoral graduates placed in CDC global health offices in Atlanta and abroad. They work on a range of priority public health issues and bring a fresh perspective to CDC’s efforts in the field. (See other “Fresh Voices” blogs.)

 

Chelsey Beane, MSPH, ASPH Fellow

Chelsey Beane, MSPH, ASPH Fellow

Working at CDC headquarters in Atlanta is an amazing experience. And yet, sometimes, you can feel disconnected from the real world impact of the science that we spend all day discussing, refining, communicating, and implementing. So I was extremely grateful to have the opportunity recently to travel to Uganda to assist the CDC country team with preparation for a visit by CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden.

Although I had read the statistics, knew about our programs, and had become familiar with the major health issues in the country, I left impressed and humbled by what I experienced. I visited a rural village that had a recent outbreak of plague, where I met a small girl who had been diagnosed with diabetes, desperately in need of care and treatment, but miles from the nearest health facility. I was welcomed into the home of a family living in a tiny enclosed hut, filled with smoke from a cooking fire by which two toddlers quietly sat, and truly understood the urgent need for clean cookstoves. I saw people living in rural villages, without access to clean water. But I also saw how efforts by CDC and its partners are making a huge impact, not just for the health system as a whole, but for individuals whose lives have been changed. I saw the implementation of growing laboratory systems in the country, that are improving diagnoses of diseases, such as early infant diagnosis of HIV, and more accurate diagnosis for tuberculosis. I heard the story of a young woman who was raped and became infected with HIV, but who later had two children, both of whom were born healthy. I saw an eRanger, or motorcycle ambulance, rush into a maternal health clinic, carrying a pregnant woman whose delivery would be attended by skilled health workers.

Water Is Life: Combatting Cholera in Haiti

Categories: diarrhea, water

Kathy MiddletonAt the small water point in Trianon, Haiti, you can see a crowd gather. Here, as at many such sites across the country, locals wait their turn to fill buckets for drinking, washing and cooking – proving the adage that no matter where you are in the world, water is life. So when a deadly outbreak of cholera struck the island in 2010, the need for clean, safe water became one of our paramount priorities.

In Haiti alone, almost 8,000 people have died as a result of cholera, an illness that is often transmitted through contaminated water. Providing safe drinking water is essential in reducing the risk of cholera and other waterborne diseases.

Safe Water Saves Lives: World Water Day 2013

Categories: child health, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, water

 

Michael Beach, PhD, Associate Director for Healthy Water, NCEZID

Michael Beach, PhD, Associate Director for Healthy Water, NCEZID

What if we lost 32 school buses full of children today? That’s 2,195 children—the number who die daily of diarrhea around the world. That’s more than die from AIDS, malaria, and measles combined. 

As World Water Day approaches on March 22, we should consider water’s role in those deaths—and what we can do to prevent them. About 88% of diarrhea-associated deaths are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and insufficient hygiene. Yet most diarrheal deaths are preventable using simple, low-cost interventions. 

Diarrhea: common illness, global killer

Diarrheal diseases account for 1 in 9 child deaths worldwide, making diarrhea the second leading cause of death among children under the age of 5. For children with HIV, diarrhea is even more deadly; the death rate for these children is 11 times higher than the rate for children without HIV.

 
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