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Structured Observations and the Competing Hazards Model – Lessons from SaniPath in Ghana

Y Wang, CL Moe, P Teunis

UNC Water Microbiology Conference (May 2017)

In May, 2017, Yuke (Andrew) gave an oral presentation at the UNC Water Microbiology Conference in Chapel Hill, NC about the SaniPath study in Accra, Ghana. The presentation explained how simulated behaviors were generated based on structured observations and how these simulations could be utilized to  generate fecal microbe transfer networks that can inform frequency, duration, and sequences of behaviors.

Access presentation here

THREE Great Features of the Sanipath Tool

The SaniPath team has created an exposure assessment tool for low-resource, urban areas with poor sanitation. Key features of the tool include its accessibility, its easy to understand results, and its potential to influence policy.

1. The SaniPath Tool is easy to use and understand

The SaniPath Tool was designed to be used independently by a variety of organizations interested in improving urban sanitation. A detailed user guide for data collection and laboratory work, automated analyses, and output that can be understood by anyone with a basic scientific background, make the tool easy to use and understand. Minimum requirements for use of the tool include:

  • A funding source (ex: local government or international organization)
  • A lab with the ability to detect E. coli and technicians to carry out the procedures in a sterile environment
  • A team with experience conducting surveys
  • A local group to distribute results to government and policy makers

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Eddy Perez: The Necessity of Data and Government Involvement in Meeting the New SDGs

Here in the United States, newspaper headlines, radio talk show hosts and television news anchors are screaming about the city of Flint, Michigan and its abject failure to provide basic WASH services to its citizens. To a large degree, the impetus for this outrage and subsequent flurry of promises to address the problem stemmed from data showing high levels of lead in the drinking water and high incidence of lead poisoning in children. It turns out that the water contamination problem started over two years ago and that government officials at both the local and state level were aware of the problems and risks, but largely ignored or even flat out denied the existence of a dangerous threat to public health. Increasingly, political observers attribute this lack of action to the fact that Flint is a poor city with a high percentage of African-American residents.

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SaniPath Takeaways from 2015 and Hopes for the New Year

This past year has been full of valuable meetings and conferences for the SaniPath team and we have been able to both collect more data from our tool as well as begin to publish results. We have outlined some of the highlights.

1. We attended and presented in exciting Sanitation Conferences around the World

Suraja Raj was able to kick off 2015 by representing SaniPath at the Fecal Sludge Management (FSM3) conference in Hanoi, Vietnam in January. She presented on the SaniPath Tool and how it can impact urban sanitation. SaniPath team members Christine Moe, Eddy Perez, Suraja Raj, and David Berendes collaborated with World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP), and the German Society for International Cooperation (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit or GIZ) to lead a workshop at FSM3 that focused on the use of diagnostic tools to assess fecal sludge management at a city-wide scale.READ MORE

Making Academic Research Useful for Practitioners

The SaniPath Tool has been developed through rigorous research by Dr. Christine Moe and her team at the Emory University’s Center for Global Safe Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene. However, to date, there has been limited application of the tool and use of the information gathered to inform investments and interventions aimed at improving sanitation. In order to improve the SaniPath Tool, the Emory team formed an Advisory Committee to seek input on how to effectively use the findings and recommendations from the SaniPath Tool to influence urban sanitation investments, policies, and programs to benefit the urban poor. The Advisory Committee is made up of leaders in the urban sanitation field from development banks, universities, and funding agencies as well as government programmers, practitioners, and policy makers.

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