Faecal infections, undernutrition and sanitation

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Are infections transmitted through open defecation and poor hygiene more significant causes of sickness, debilitation and undernutrition than is commonly recognised? So far, much attention has been focused on diarrhoea. Relatively neglected have been other faecally-related infections estimated to be widespread such as Ascaris, hookworm, Schistosomiasis and liverfluke. These diseases are often subclinical and less visible, less measurable and measured, not episodic but continuously debilitating, and less treated. All of these infections – diarrhoeas and all the others – can be attacked and in principle eliminated by safe sanitation and hygienic behaviour.

In these notes, Robert Chambers asks whether the above implies a new or intensified research agenda, and argues that if the hypotheses put forward in these notes are true, safe sanitation and hygienic behaviour should be even higher priorities of policy and practice.

Read the short summary note _Faecal Infections and Undernutrition or a more detailed exloration of these themes in Undernutrition and Illbeing

Jean Humphrey’s article on Tropical Enteropathy published in the Lancet (19th Septemer 2009) is useful background reading.

Robert Chambers also gave evidence at the International Development Select Committee on the future of DFID’s Programme in India on the 8th February 2010, speaking specifically about health, nutrition, sanitation and CLTS in India.

Any comments, additions, resources and information on the above topics are much appreciated by email

Date: 9 February 2011