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Dr. Jason Marion Goes Beyond the Classroom

Dr. Marion taking a water sample from a resident in Kenya

During the 4 week break between the Fall 2012 and Spring 2013 semester, first year professor, Dr. Jason Marion joined Environmental Health Science graduate students in the MPH program, Ben Cheruiyot and Peter Sigilai, on a trip to their native Kenya.  During the trip they helped residents of Kenya’s poorest region identify health risks posed by contaminated drinking water.

As one of the world’s poorest countries, Kenya is ravaged by waterborne diseases, especially among children in poorer regions. To identify risk factors associated with the lack of proper water treatment measures, the EKU team went door to door surveying adults and collecting water samples from approximately 160 households in western Kenya’s Great Rift Valley, where research has indicated significant morbidity due to diarrheal diseases and associated environmental conditions.

The Kenya project was funded by an $8,000 grant from the EKU Division of Sponsored Programs, $1,500 from the Master of Public Health program, as well as a $275 donation from Kathy Hall, former director of Continuing Education and Development in EKU’s College of Health Sciences. Most of the funds went to the flights to and from Kenya and for purchasing microbiology supplies for evaluating the drinking water in each home.

According to Dr. Marion, “Our objectives were to compare gastrointestinal illness (GI) incidence among households with differing knowledge, attitudes and perceptions of water disinfection strategies, and identify the risk factors associated with GI incidence in these communities,” adding that this study “may be sufficient for publication in a high-impact journal leading to an improved likelihood of obtaining significant external dollars for future studies.”

Published on August 13, 2013

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