New Grant: Chemical water quality and impacts on the treatment of severely malnourished infants and children

DIGHR has been awarded an Innovation Grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (UK) to investigate the role chemical water quality has in affecting the treatment and recovery of severely malnourished infants and children in humanitarian crisis zones.

Recent experiences in the Horn of Africa food security crisis have raised concerns that variable levels of certain water quality chemical parameters (e.g., sodium, potassium, etc.) in water supply to inpatient therapeutic feeding centres (ITFCs) may be linked to medical complications in the treatment of infants and children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM), even when water quality parameters are within established guideline limits (i.e., WHO). There is little research on this topic and limited understanding in the humanitarian sector on how to manage it or the scope of the problem, especially under advancing climate change.

With this new grant from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, the Dahdaleh Institute for Global Health Research, in collaboration with operational partner Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), will investigate this emerging challenge by synthesizing current knowledge and convening an expert panel. The project will:

  1. Establish guidelines for maximum allowable concentrations of key chemical water quality parameters in ITFCs.
  2. Identify potential technical approaches and innovations for improving chemical water quality in humanitarian field settings.
  3. Identify knowledge gaps and priorities for further R&D in order to catalyze new collaborative work in this space.

This project will launch in Spring 2018 and continue through until the end of the year. Stay tuned for more details.

For more information on this project, please contact Dr. Syed Imran Ali, DIGHR Fellow in Global Health and Humanitarianism, at siali@yorku.ca.