Water Quality Public Health Program in the Dominican Republic

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Mitchell, Emma
Thompson, Molly
Michels, Dr. Gary
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2012-03-28
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The Institute of Latin American Concern (ILAC) is a Jesuit mission that was established over 30 years ago to provide healthcare to impoverished, rural Dominicans. Early in its history the organization realized that systematic change required a focus on public health. For this reason, a healthcare provider, cooperador, network was established for each rural community. In addition to education, water quality became an integral part of the public health effort through a program to distribute water filters to the rural communities. The object of the program is to increase accessibility of potable water, to provide education on correct filter usage, and to maintain filters. Yearly testing is conducted in order to provide continued education of correct filter use, as well as ensuring proper functionality in rural communities. ILAC Water Quality Program 2011 testing included inspection of 500 filters from 23 different communities. Of the 500 filters examined, 7.2% were deemed non-functional, as compared to 20% in years past. Microbial analysis of 424 samples was conducted in order to observe the potablility of the sample filters. 95% of the samples analyzed produced water that was found to be safe for consumption. Testing indicates 61% of source water, i.e. aqueduct and rainwater samples, was unsafe for drinking demonstrating the need for water purification throughout the communities. The increased purity results of the filters can be attributed to the continual education of the cooperador network. The ILAC Water Quality Program aims to establish a model in which education, filter maintenance, filter production, and filter testing would be transferred to the Dominicans.
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Creighton University
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