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Solar disinfection of water reduces diarrhoeal disease: an update
  1. Ronán M Conroya,
  2. Michael Elmore Meeganb,
  3. Tina Joycea,
  4. Kevin McGuigana,
  5. Joseph Barnesa
  1. aMercer Building, Royal College of Surgeons, Department of Tropical Medicine and International Health, Dublin 2, Ireland, bICROSS, PO Box 507, Ngong Hills, Kenya
  1. Dr Conroy. email: rconroy{at}


349 Maasai children younger than 6 years old were randomised by alternate household to drink water either left in plastic bottles exposed to sunlight on the roof of the house or kept indoors (control). The trial was run in Maasai by Maasai community elders. Children drinking solar disinfected water had a significantly lower risk of severe diarrhoeal disease over 8705 two weekly follow up visits; two week period prevalence was 48.8% compared with 58.1% in controls, corresponding to an attributable fraction of 16.0%. While this reduction is modest, it was sustained over a year in free living children. It confirms solar disinfection as effective in vivo as a free, low technology, point of consumption method of improving water quality. The continuing use of solar disinfection by the community underlines the value of community participation in research.

  • solar disinfection
  • diarrhoeal disease
  • randomised controlled trial

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