Project Lead(s): Caroline Kisia
Around 2.2 million people die of infectious diarrhea every year, the majority being children below the age of five in developing countries like Kenya and India.
Most diarrheal diseases worldwide can be attributed to contamination of drinking water by microbial pathogens.
The project team has developed a low-cost (~$3), point-of-use copper device designed to kill waterborne pathogens, to prevent infectious diarrhea.
The primary objective of the current project was to measure the effect of a low-cost, copper-based disinfectant device in reducing the coliform and E. coli counts in drinking water in households in India and Kenya.
The other objectives were to assess the incidence of diarrhea among children under the age of five and to receive feedback from the households on the utility of the device in terms of convenience in use, perceived health benefits and willingness to purchase.
Sub-chronic toxicity studies in a rat model and low-leach levels (~100 ppb) of copper within World Health Organization (WHO) permissible limits established the safety of the copper device.
An open labelled, controlled study was conducted in communities in Kenya.
Seven villages (four intervention and three control) in Karnataka, India, and two sites in Kenya (one intervention and one control), consisting of a total population of 1,774 and having contaminated water supplies, were selected for study.
Households in the intervention group received the device in a 10-liter water can, along with a demonstration on how to use and care for it, while the control group received only the water cans.
Both groups received health awareness training related to water, sanitation and hygiene, and diarrhea management.
Results showed that the device kills waterborne pathogens like E. coli and Vibrio cholerae.
The difference between pre and post counts for total coliform and E. coli in paired samples at all three sampling time points from the intervention group was statistically highly significant.
A decline of >50% in coliform and E. coli counts was observed in 71.43% and 58.42% of the intervention and control households, respectively.
Feedback from young mothers in the intervention group was that their children were now less frequently sick from diarrhea and other common ailments, and that the health-related spending on their children had been reduced.
They attributed the benefits to the device and wanted a coil for a 20-liter water container, were willing to pay $20 for it, and wanted the time of contact of the coil to be reduced from 16 hour to 8–10 hours.
Knowledge from this project was disseminated widely in conference presentations.
In further development, the research team would like to address critical research questions to reduce contact time of the device in the water, improve compliance, remove turbidity and improve aesthetics.
The project team would like the device to be used by people in Kenya, Uganda and India, and are looking for suitable partners that could distribute it to other countries.