Abstract/Summary: In the 1950s, shortly after the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the central government created the Patriotic Health Campaign (PHC) in order to standardize and disseminate health focused educational materials intended to control and prevent infectious diseases (1). “Water improvement”, meaning measures aimed at providing safe drinking water for households in China, was an important part of the PHC. After 60 years of water improvement policies, programs, and investments, the rural water supply sanitation and hygiene in China has improved dramatically, and water-related diseases no longer negatively impact the rural population as they once did. In addition to improvements related to the quantity and quality of the rural water supply, water improvement programs also promoted improved hygiene, sanitation, and other health-related behaviors among rural households. Together, such initiatives have improved the quality of life and the health of hundreds of millions of rural residents, while also contributing to economic and social advancement across rural China (2). The purpose of this article is to describe how the PHC served as a foundation for the expansion and improvement of drinking water supply in rural China, and to summarize the key programs, projects, and initiatives that followed over the last 60 years.
Results from our previous research in rural China suggests that increasing the use of electric kettles for boiling (i.e., treating) drinking water in low-income areas of rural China could help expand access to safer drinking water, reduce household air pollution, and improve environmental and health outcomes in rural Chinese households currently boiling drinking water with solid-fuels (or not treating their water, or drinking contaminated bottled water). Our study was designed to evaluate the impact of a pilot Rural Electric Kettle Promotion Program offered to low-income households in rural Anhui Province, China. Specifically, we used a parallel arm cohort cluster-randomized controlled (RCT) trial design with a 1:1 ratio to randomize 30 clusters (i.e., villages) to treatment or control using stratified randomization by geography and by cluster proportions of reported electric kettle use at baseline. [Note: Data cleaning and analysis have been delayed due to the COVID19 pandemic]