🌏 Healthabitat Blog #️⃣1️⃣: Introducing ‘The Health Story’

At the center of all past IWSH Community Plumbing Challenges around the world has been the goal of assisting people at a local level in improving their health, by improving water and sanitation facilities. The upcoming CPC Navajo Nation project is no different.

One of the key underlying “challenges” of the Navajo Nation Community Plumbing Challenge (CPC) is aimed at reducing high rates of infectious diseases, particularly in children. High rates of infectious diseases have been clearly linked to poor living conditions and lack of basic hygiene. This has been the case for hundreds of years in all parts of the world and sadly continues to be true today – even in ‘developed’ countries such as the USA.

In order to reduce the environmental risks to their children, parents need to be able to wash their kids hands’ and face frequently; bath and shower children regularly, wash themselves, clean their living space, clean their bedding and clothes, and store and prepare foods safely. In addition, they need to protect their family from electrical and safety hazards in the house.

In many communities however the house simply does not provide the “hardware” necessary to carry out the healthy living practices outlined above.  According to our CPC project partner DigDeep, who run the Navajo Water Project “nearly 40% of Navajo don’t have a tap or toilet at home”.  The aim of the CPC Navajo Nation project is to assess and fix this critical health hardware in 10 nominated houses, so that families have the ability to carry out these healthy living practices (HLP’s).

Another important health benefit of the project relates to the fact that childhood infectious diseases do contribute to several of the chronic disorders which effect adults. So, reducing the rates of these childhood diseases is also likely to have some long-term benefit for adults.

We will not be attempting to measure a change in health status with this project. This community has a small population and health status changes slowly. However, the importance of these healthy living practices and improving health status has been proved many times elsewhere in the world: the surrogate measure of change in health status will be to measure the improvements in the functionality of the health hardware in these 10 houses over the week of the CPC. We will look forward to sharing our progress as the CPC Navajo Nation project begins.

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