The University of California, Berkeley has announced a five-year, $10.9 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to evaluate the effectiveness of several interventions in combating diarrheal disease in developing countries.
The grant will fund researchers trying to determine how sanitation interventions delivered alone or as part of combined packages affect child health and well-being in Bangladesh and Kenya, two countries representative of the regions that account for the majority of the world's gastrointestinal disease. In addition to improved sanitation, the intervention packages will include drinking water improvements and hand-washing solutions.
According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 2.2 million children under the age of five die from diarrheal diseases each year. Most of these diseases are thought to be preventable with improvements in sanitation, water quality, and hygiene.
Dr. Jack Colford, professor of epidemiology at UC Berkeley's School of Public Health, will coordinate the project, while Dr. Stephen Luby, head of the Programme on Infectious Diseases and Vaccine Sciences with the International Centre for Diarrheal Disease Research, Bangladesh, and Michael Kremer, Ph.D., a research affiliate with Innovations for Poverty Action will lead the trials in Bangladesh and Kenya, respectively.
"Increasingly, foundations, governments, the World Bank, and development agencies such as the Millennium Challenge Corporation are demanding evidence of effectiveness when awarding development funds," said Colford. "Right now, it is unknown whether single interventions are as cost-effective as combinations of these interventions. This grant will fund the first large-scale, randomized impact evaluation designed to gather rigorous evidence about this question."