Decentralization policies and clean water practitioners: using hollow fiber membrane water filters to reduce the prevalence of GI-related symptoms and diagnoses in rural Honduras

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Water Practice and Technology


Illnesses caused by dirty water are still prevalent in developing countries, resulting in significant health problems. This study explores how hollow fiber membrane point-of-use filters can reduce the prevalence of gastrointestinal (GI)-related symptoms and diagnoses. We summarize the current approach and policies regarding clean water in Honduras, which is marked by decentralization, and note the resulting challenges for clean water provision. To highlight how this works in practice, we combine medical brigade diagnosis data with survey data to explore the effect of point-of-use water filters on the prevalence of GI-related symptoms and diagnoses in rural south-central Honduras. Using OLS and penalized logistic regression, we find that hollow fiber membrane filters are effective in reducing GI-related diseases. Specifically, they reduce the number of GI-related symptoms by 0.30, and specifically those patients complaining of stomach aches (39 percent), diarrhea (39 percent), and vomiting (70 percent). We also find that they reduce the likelihood of a patient receiving an infectious disease/parasitic diagnosis (48 percent in all patients and 87 percent in children under the age of 13 years). These results have significant implications on those working with non-profit and non-governmental organizations to bring clean water to those living in developing nations.