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Drinking water sources, mortality and diarrhoea morbidity among young children in Northern Ghana

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In the Upper East Region of Ghana, considerable resources have been invested in the provision of boreholes. As part of the Ghana Vitamin A Supplementation Trials' Survival Study which was carried out in one of the districts of the Upper East Region between January 1989 and December 1991, data were collected over a period of one calendar year on the drinking water sources used by approximately 13 000 mothers/guardians of over 20 000 children and on the morbidity and mortality experiences of these children. These data were used to describe seasonal and geographical variations in drinking water sources; to look for other predictors of water source use; and to establish whether the drinking water source was associated with the risk of child death or the period prevalence of diarrhoea among young children.

Boreholes were used as the main source of drinking water by about 60–70% of respondents. They were used slightly more frequently in the dry season. In the rainy season, the use increased of more traditional sources such as rainwater or holes dug in stream beds. The use of boreholes was greatest in the northern zone of the study area and was more common in those who had had some formal education and were of higher socioeconomic status. Some association was found between reported drinking water source and diarrhoeal morbidity, although this association appeared to be seasonal. No significant association was found between drinking water source and child mortality.
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Keywords: boreholes; child mortality; diarrhoea; drinking water

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, UK, 2: Ghana Vitamin A Supplementation Trials, Navrongo, Ghana,

Publication date: 1996-06-01

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