Catholic University of Angola runs conference on the links between WASH and non-communicable disease

The Catholic University of Angola (CUA) WASH conference was organized by the WASHable partners, Prof Tommaso De Pippo and Prof Marli Santana on the 29th of October 2020. The Conference addressed important WASH topics and their relations to public health such as incidence of malaria and cholera. It was an interdisciplinary conference involving panellists from epidemiology, engineering and humanities who talked about (1) the challenges involving the sanitation infrastructure in Luanda, especially the current conditions of the Luanda river and the need for appropriate sanitary solutions to the Luanda context, (2) the attitudes, practices and knowledge on cholera prevention, and (3) the incidence of diseases related to the WASH local conditions. An overview of the WASHable project was also presented by Dr Emmanuel Tsekleves. You can access the presentation slides here and view a video of the presentation below.

WASH problems are still contributing to impacts on public health. Prof. Euclides Sacomboio presented the current situation and perspectives on public health, highlighting that morbidity and mortality, especially in vulnerable communities, are mostly related to the high incidence of communicable diseases and the rise in non-communicable chronic diseases in Angola, also contributing to premature mortality. These diseases are caused by the lack of hygiene, basic sanitation and appropriate fresh water for human consumption combined with genetic and lifestyle factors (Ministério da Economia e Planejamento, 2018).

The mortality rate among under 5 years old children in Angola is just under 20% (194/1000), health services are reached by around 50-60% of the population, there are 10,000 habitants for each doctor, life expectancy is just over 51 years old, and over 35% of people are below the poverty line. It is estimated that Angola would need to invest around 56 million USD annually for the total elimination of outdoor defecation by 2030 and about 74 million USD to eliminate it and improve hygiene. Disease incidence tends to worsen because public resources have shrunk, investment in sanitation and health has gone down, particularly during economic crises, and the population grows at a rate of 3% for year. Additionally, sub notification of WASH-related diseases may happen since there is lack of data on some areas in the country (data from Prof. Euclides Sacomboio’s presentation).

Community engagement and participatory design can contribute to tackling these challenges with local communities.

Reference

Ministério da Economia e Planejamento. (2018). Plano de Desenvolvimento Nacional 2018-2022 [National Development Plan 2018-2022]. Governo de Angola [Angola Government]. Accessed on November 18, 2020. Retrieved from: http://extwprlegs1.fao.org/docs/pdf/ang179971Plan.pdf

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