Oct 30, 2006

Point-of-Use Water Treatment Beneficial in Refugee Camps

Point-of-use water treatment and improved water storage reduced the incidence of diarrhea by 90 percent when compared to improved water storage alone in camps for the internally displaced in Liberia, according to a study by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In camp settings during emergencies, diarrheal diseases have accounted for more than 40 percent of all deaths, and a majority of deaths of small children. The study evaluated Procter & Gamble's PUR® Purifier of Water and is the first to test the effectiveness of PUR under emergency conditions. The study was published in the October 2006 edition of Tropical Medicine and International Health.

"Point-of-use water treatment technologies are very important in the emergency context because safe drinking water is often inaccessible. Our study demonstrated that households were able to treat water in a bucket within 30 minutes with PUR to change muddy water into clear safe drinking water," said Shannon Doocy, lead author of the study and a researcher with the Bloomberg School's Center for Refugee and Disaster Response.

Over a 12-week period, researchers monitored 2,215 internally displaced people living in 2 camps near Monrovia, Liberia, from July to September 2004. A total of 400 households from the 2 camps were randomly selected to participate. Half of the households received PUR sachets and containers for storing water, while the other half received only storage containers. At the beginning of the study, the prevalence of diarrhea within the camps was 20 percent. In addition to a 90 percent drop in the incidence of diarrhea, the PUR group saw an 83 percent reduction in the prevalence in diarrhea compared to the improved storage group.

"Point-of-use water treatment and diarrhea reduction in the emergency context: an effectiveness trial in Liberia" was written by Shannon Doocy and Gilbert Burnham.

The research was funded by the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, the P&G Health Sciences Institute, the Testa Family Fund and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.