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Rainfall variation and child health: effect of rainfall on diarrhea among under 5 children in Rwanda, 2010
Authors: Assumpta Mukabutera, Dana Thomson, Megan Murray, Paulin Basinga, Laetitia Nyirazinyoye, Sidney Atwood, Kevin P. Savage, Aimable Ngirimana, and Bethany L. Hedt-Gauthier
Source: BMC Public Health, 16(1):1-9; DOI: 10.1186/s12889-016-3435-9
Topic(s): Child health
Children under five
Environment and natural resources
Country: Africa
Published: DEC 2016
Abstract: Abstract Background Diarrhea among children under 5 years of age has long been a major public health concern. Previous studies have suggested an association between rainfall and diarrhea. Here, we examined the association between Rwandan rainfall patterns and childhood diarrhea and the impact of household sanitation variables on this relationship. Methods We derived a series of rain-related variables in Rwanda based on daily rainfall measurements and hydrological models built from daily precipitation measurements collected between 2009 and 2011. Using these data and the 2010 Rwanda Demographic and Health Survey database, we measured the association between total monthly rainfall, monthly rainfall intensity, runoff water and anomalous rainfall and the occurrence of diarrhea in children under 5 years of age. Results Among the 8601 children under 5 years of age included in the survey, 13.2 % reported having diarrhea within the 2 weeks prior to the survey. We found that higher levels of runoff were protective against diarrhea compared to low levels among children who lived in households with unimproved toilet facilities (OR?=?0.54, 95 % CI: [0.34, 0.87] for moderate runoff and OR?=?0.50, 95 % CI: [0.29, 0.86] for high runoff) but had no impact among children in household with improved toilets. Conclusion Our finding that children in households with unimproved toilets were less likely to report diarrhea during periods of high runoff highlights the vulnerabilities of those living without adequate sanitation to the negative health impacts of environmental events.