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The effect of India’s total sanitation campaign on defecation behaviors and child health in rural Madhya Pradesh: a cluster randomized controlled trial.

by / Thursday, 06 November 2014 / Published in Faculty Research in Asia, Research

CGPH FACULTY: Paul Gertler, John Colford

DATE OF PUBLICATION: August 2014

REGION: Asia

REFERENCE: Patil SR, Arnold BF, Salvatore AL, Briceno B, Ganguly S, Colford JM Jr, Gertler PJ. The effect of India’s total sanitation campaign on defecation behaviors and child health in rural Madhya Pradesh: a cluster randomized controlled trial. PLoS Med. 2014 Aug 26;11(8):e1001709. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001709. eCollection 2014 Aug.

SUMMARY/ABSTRACT: Poor sanitation is thought to be a major cause of enteric infections among young children. However, there are no previously published randomized trials to measure the health impacts of large-scale sanitation programs. India’s Total Sanitation Campaign (TSC) is one such program that seeks to end the practice of open defecation by changing social norms and behaviors, and providing technical support and financial subsidies. The objective of this study was to measure the effect of the TSC implemented with capacity building support from the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program in Madhya Pradesh on availability of individual household latrines (IHLs), defecation behaviors, and child health (diarrhea, highly credible gastrointestinal illness [HCGI], parasitic infections, anemia, growth). The intervention led to modest increases in availability of IHLs and even more modest reductions in open defecation. These improvements were insufficient to improve child health outcomes (diarrhea, HCGI, parasite infection, anemia, growth). The results underscore the difficulty of achieving adequately large improvements in sanitation levels to deliver expected health benefits within large-scale rural sanitation programs.

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