Impact of Water Related Natural Disasters on Children's Health in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is a low lying country that experienced 62 water related natural disasters from 2000-09. This makes the country susceptible to disease outbreaks like diarrhea, hepatitis A and E and Leptospirosis. Prior literature suggests that children under the age of 5 are particularly susceptible to these diseases and face great risk in the short term and the long term. In the long term, disasters may stunt their growth and leave them underweight.The author uses the data from Demographic and Health Surveys and EM-DAT to ascertain whether the occurrence of water related natural disasters have an effect on children aged under 5 contracting water-related diseases such as diarrhea, cough, fever and acute respiratory illnesses in the short run. A logit model is run for the likelihood of the child falling ill and control for various factors like age, gender, parents' education, family size, parent's occupation and household income. An ordinary least squares regression is run to see if there is a long term effect of exposure to water related natural disasters.The results suggest that exposure to water related natural disasters increases the likelihood of contracting diarrhea and fever. There is also some evidence that lower income groups may be more exposed to these diseases as a result of the disasters. In the long term there is strong evidence that children from low income households are more affected by water related natural disasters.There are policy implications for health, poverty alleviation and disaster management. A comprehensive health policy may be needed to counter the effects of water-related natural disasters. A disaster management policy may prevent some of the risks associated with water-borne illnesses right after the disaster occurs. In the long term, poverty alleviation may provide the best means to tackle these issues as children from higher income households are better shielded from the adverse effects of these disasters.
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