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Accounting for recent trends in the prevalence of diarrhoea in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC): results from consecutive cross-sectional surveys
  1. Jacques B O Emina1,2,
  2. Ngianga-Bakwin Kandala3,4
  1. 1Department of Population and Development studies, University of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
  2. 2CEPS/INSTEAD, University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg
  3. 3Division of Health Sciences, Populations, Evidence and Technologies Group, Warwick Medical School, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK
  4. 4Malaria Public Health and Epidemiology Group, Centre for Geographic Medicine, KEMRI-University of Oxford-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme, Nairobi, Kenya
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ngianga-Bakwin Kandala; N-B.Kandala{at}


Objectives To analyse trends in diarrhoea prevalence by maternal education, access to clean water and improved sanitation, household wealth index; to identify the sources of variation and assess contribution of changes in socioeconomic characteristics in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Design Consecutive cross-sectional surveys.

Setting DRC.

Participants The databases contain information on 9748 children from the 2001 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey and 7987 children from the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey.

Interventions N/A.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Whether the child had diarrhoea 14 days preceding the survey.

Results The overall prevalence of diarrhoea decreased by 26 percent (from 22.1% in 2001 to 16.4% in 2007). Findings from the three complementary statistical methods are consistent and confirm a significant decrease in diarrhoea regardless of socioeconomic characteristics. Changes in behaviour and/or in public health policy seem to be the likely main source of the change. There were no significant changes in diarrhoea prevalence associated with variation of the population structure. It is worth mentioning that the decrease in diarrhoea prevalence is in contrast to the generalised poor living conditions of the population. Therefore, it is difficult to ascertain whether the decline in diarrhoea prevalence was due to real improvement in public-health policy or to data quality issues.

Conclusions The decline of diarrhoea prevalence in our study need to be further investigated by conducting district-based or provincial-based studies to validate findings from household surveys such as Demographic and Health Surveys and Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey taking into account the current context of the country: ongoing conflict, poor socioeconomic and poor health infrastructure. However, improvement in living conditions such as access to clean water and improved sanitation will contribute to accelerate the reduction of diarrhoea prevalence as well as reduction of child mortality.

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