Shared sanitation and the prevalence of diarrhea in young children: evidence from 51 countries, 2001-2011.


Shared sanitation is defined as unimproved because of concerns that it creates unsanitary conditions; this policy is being reconsidered. We assessed whether sharing a toilet facility was associated with an increased prevalence of diarrhea among children < 5 years of age. We use data from Demographic and Health Surveys conducted in 51 countries. Crude and adjusted prevalence ratios (PRs) for diarrhea, comparing children from households that used a shared facility with children from households that used a non-shared facility, were estimated for each country and pooled across countries. Unadjusted PRs varied across countries, ranging from 2.15 to 0.65. The pooled PR was 1.09; differences in socioeconomic status explained approximately half of this increased prevalence (adjusted PR = 1.05). Shared sanitation appears to be a risk factor for diarrhea although differences in socioeconomic status are important. The heterogeneity across countries, however, suggests that the social and economic context is an important factor.

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