Author(s): Kunii O, Nakamura S, Abdur R, Wakai S
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Abstract The 1998 flood in Bangladesh ravaged approximately 60\% of the land and affected over 30 million people. The aim of this study is to examine the impact of the flood on the health of the communities affected and to explore factors associated with episodes of diarrhoea. We conducted structured interviews with 517 people in two districts that had been affected in October 1998, when the flood water level was at its peak. Of the 517 respondents, 98.3\% developed health problems or found that existing health problems were exacerbated. Many perceived that their general health condition was 'much worse' (16.9\%) or 'worse' (64.3\%). The most prevalent condition was fever (63.6\%), followed by respiratory problems (46.8\%), diarrhoea (44.3\%), and skin problems (41.0\%). Only 1.0\% and 6.7\% of the respondents treated water before drinking, by boiling and chlorination, respectively, although water collected from tube-wells (93.2\%) and rivers (6.0\%) was perceived by 75.0\% of the respondents to be contaminated. Factors associated with developing or worsening diarrhoea were as follows; the number of family members, poor economic status, a lack of distribution of water purification tablets, the type of water storage vessels, not putting a lid on the vessel, no use of latrines, perceived change of drinking water, food scarcity, and worries about the future. In logistic regression analysis, men, poor economic status, lack of distribution of water purification tablets, and the type of water storage vessels had a significant association with diarrhoea. The 1998 Bangladesh flood had a substantial impact on the health of communities. Diarrhoea was associated with socioeconomic status, water handling and household sanitation. There ought to be more emphasis on health education in the pre-disaster period in order to empower communities against floods.
This article was published in Public Health
and referenced in Journal of Geography & Natural Disasters