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Simple questionnaire can improve diarrheal disease response in Africa


   

Kathleen Alexander and Mpho Ramotadima Kathleen Alexander (left) and Mpho Ramotadima, community extension officer at CARACAL, the nonprofit organization Alexander co-founded, check water quality at a public faucet in a Botswana village.


May 15, 2014 – Using a simple survey tool, a team of researchers led by Associate Professor Kathleen Alexander has done what complex studies have failed to do — provide data that identifies starting points for preventing diarrheal disease outbreaks in the Chobe District of Botswana.

Using only local nursing staff in the resource- strapped region, the questionnaire approach proved successful, providing information that would not have otherwise been available and leading to immediate recommendations regarding control.

“This approach does not require increased human or economic resources or outside researchers, and it can give immediate insight into public health threats and disease outbreaks. This is an important starting point,” said Alexander, whose research was published in the journal BioMed Central Public Health.

“The purpose of the questionnaire-based study was to try to find a way that governments could begin to accumulate information on outbreak features that could be used even in the face of significant human resource, infrastructure, and technology constraints,” she continued. “If we wait until there are more resources available to do sophisticated studies, they will never happen and we will continue to battle with diarrheal disease in much of Africa.”

Read the full press release.


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