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How land-use dynamics and surface-water systems interactions influence water-related infectious diseases

Human  interactions  with  surface  water  systems,  through  land‐use  dynamics,  can  influence the transmission of infectious water‐related diseases. As a result, the aim of our study was  to explore and examine the state of scientific evidence on the influences of these interactions on  water‐related infectious disease outcomes from a global perspective. A systematic review was  conducted, using 54 peer‐reviewed research articles published between 1995 and August 2019. The  study revealed that there has been an increase in the number of publications since 2009; however,  few of these publications (n = 6) made explicit linkages to the topic. It was found that urban and  agricultural land‐use changes had relatively high adverse impacts on water quality, due to high  concentrations of fecal matter, heavy metals, and nutrients in surface water systems. Water systems  were found as the common “vehicle” for infectious disease transmission, which in turn had linkages  to sanitation and hygiene conditions. The study found explicit linkages between human–surface  water  interaction  patterns  and  the  transmission  of  water‐based  disease.  However,  weak  and  complex linkages were found between land‐use change and the transmission of water‐borne  disease, due to multiple pathways and the dynamics of the other determinants of the disease.  Therefore, further research studies, using interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary approaches to  investigate and enhance a deeper understanding of these complexities and linkages among land  use, surface water quality, and water‐related infectious diseases, is crucial in developing integrated  measures for sustainable water quality monitoring and diseases prevention.

First author is Joshua Ntajal, who is a ZEF junior researcher working with the One Health and Urban Transformation Project.

See also: DOI:10.3390/w12030631

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