Haitian neighborhoods in the Dominican Republic are four to five times more likely to have contaminated water supplies than neighborhoods with a mainly Dominican population, according to a study by researchers from the School of Public Health at Georgia State University.
The study showing the disparity in access to clean drinking water may shed additional light upon previous research that found majority-Haitian neighborhoods in the Dominican Republic bear a disproportionate burden of disease, the researchers noted.
“Lack of access to clean water is an ongoing global health crisis that disproportionately affects developing countries. Within these countries, there are often a subset of the population that is at a higher risk of contaminated water and waterborne pathogens,” the study said.
The study, titled “A Pilot Study to Examine the Disparities in Water Quality between Predominately Haitian Neighborhoods and Dominican Neighborhoods in Two Cities in the Dominican Republic,” was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. The study’s lead author, Ms. Jessica Rogers-Brown, is a PhD student at the School of Public Health who worked on the project during a school-sponsored study abroad trip while she was earning her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree.
The researchers noted the significant difference in income between Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share a border on the island of Hispaniola, has resulted in increased migration from Haiti into the Dominican Republic. However, many of the neighborhoods in the Dominican Republic remain segregated.
During the study, researchers tested water samples from 49 sites in the Dominican Republic for microbial contamination, including the presence of coliform and E.coli bacteria, which can cause diarrheal diseases. The samples showed that water from neighborhoods where most of the residents are Haitian immigrants was 4.25 times more likely to be contaminated with E.coli and 4.78 times more likely to be contaminated with coliform.
The study’s authors also included Georgia State MPH graduates Mr. Ryan Johnson and Ms. Dominique Smith, who were students at the time of the study, and Dr. Kim Ramsey-White, director of research and training at the School’s Center of Excellence on Health Disparities Research. White also led the study abroad group.