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Perceptions of health Communication, Water Treatment and Sanitation in Artibonite Department, Haiti, March-April 2012

The international response to Haiti’s ongoing cholera outbreak has been multifaceted, including health education efforts by community health workers and the distribution of free water treatment products. Artibonite Department was the first region affected by the outbreak. Numerous organizations have been involved in cholera response efforts in Haiti with many focusing on efforts to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Multiple types of water treatment products have been distributed, creating the potential for confusion over correct dosage and water treatment methods. We utilized qualitative methods in Artibonite to determine the population’s response to WASH messages, use and acceptability of water treatment products, and water treatment and sanitation knowledge, attitudes and practices at the household level. We conducted eighteen focus group discussions (FGDs): 17 FGDs were held with community members (nine among females, eight among males); one FGD was held with community health workers. Health messages related to WASH were well retained, with reported improvements in hand-washing. Community health workers were identified as valued sources of health information. Most participants noted a paucity of water-treatment products. Sanitation, specifically the construction of latrines, was the most commonly identified need. Lack of funds was the primary reason given for not constructing a latrine. The construction and maintenance of potable water and sanitation services is needed to ensure a sustainable change.

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