Beyond the Volcanoes: A Community Partnership for Health in Rural Nicaragua
Background: Health inequities related to gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and geography exist in rural Nicaragua due to a variety of causative factors. One such contributor to these inequalities is that of the increased exposure to indoor air pollution for women and children, and the subsequent respiratory infections that they may develop as a result of cooking over an open fire in poorly ventilated homes and kitchens. The purpose of the ongoing research project of Beyond the Volcanoes is to combat this particular additive to the global burden of disease and improve health equity in rural Nicaragua through social transformation using community-based participatory action research.
Methods: Prochaska’s Transtheoretical Model provides the theoretical foundation for the use of community-based participatory research methodology. This methodology involves six phases: partnership, assessment, planning, implementation, evaluation, and dissemination.
Results: The research team has now implemented 150 stoves, and although data is continuing to be analyzed, women in the community are anecdotally expressing improvements in the health outcomes related to eye irritation, cough, chest illness, shortness of breath, and headache. Since 2007, 15 students have participated on the research team, with four students returning post-graduation, for a total of 43 collective trips to one community in Nicaragua.
Conclusions: The results show that installing improved cookstoves with chimneys has decreased many symptoms previously experienced by residents of homes that cooked over open fires in the past.
Knippenberg, Emily; Tinkey, Jamielynn; Abad, Vanesa; Heinz, Megan; and Mesalam, Katelyn, "Beyond the Volcanoes: A Community Partnership for Health in Rural Nicaragua" (2015). Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression (SOURCE). 409.
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