submitted by DefeatDD
07/28/2015 at 15:31

Since 1990, nearly 100 million children around the world have been saved due to global efforts to reduce child mortality, and maternal deaths have been cut nearly in half. The US government has played a large role in this great success story.

Yet still, each day, more than 17,000 children’s lives and nearly 800 mothers’ lives are lost due mostly to preventable causes. If you’re like us, you think this is unacceptable. The good news is, history has shown us what we can do when we work together – and research has backed it up. We can end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths within a generation. But we must all play our role to make it happen!


The opportunity: a more coordinated US strategy

The Reach Every Mother and Child Act will be introduced in Congress calls for the scaling up of simple solutions and requiring a coordinated, streamlined strategy to end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths by 2035. Learn more about the bill here. A group of over 20 diverse nonprofits are advocating for the United States Congress to fulfill its promise to save the lives of moms, kids, and babies around the world– and you can add your voice to the call. 


How you can help #SaveMomsandKids

We are advocating for this bill because we believe that moms, children, and babies are best served when resources and expertise are brought together to achieve maximum impact. The same is true for our voices, and that’s why we need your help.

We are starting a virtual “chain” around the world comprised of people who believe we must do all we can to #SaveMomsandKids. Join our global chain to show policymakers that US citizens, along with others around the world, support coordinated efforts for maternal, newborn, and child health. It’s easy:

Colleagues in PATH's Kenya office have joined the global chain to #SaveMomsAndKids.


1.      Take a photo linking arms with your friends, family, colleagues – anyone you want.


2.      Share the photo on Twitter using the hashtag #SaveMomsAndKids with a message sharing why you are joining the initiative. Or, use one of these sample messages:


·         All moms and kids deserve a chance to be healthy and happy. Join our chain to #SaveMomsAndKids [PHOTO]  


·         Join the virtual chain of people who believe we must do all we can to #SaveMomsAndKids [PHOTO]  


·         Let’s start a chain reaction to #SaveMomsAndKidsaround the world. [PHOTO]  


·         Don’t break the chain! Join us to #SaveMomsAndKidseverywhere. [PHOTO]  


·         Today we are coming together to #SaveMomsAndKids around the world. Will you join us? [PHOTO]


3.      Optional: Tag your representative asking for support of the bill. Find a list of congressional Twitter handles here. (Find who your senator or representative is here.)


·         Example: .@RepAdamSmith You’re a vital link in the chain to #SaveMomsAndKids. Will you join us? [PHOTO]  


4.      Follow #SaveMomsAndKids for other opportunities to share information, graphics, and other content. Be part of the conversation!


Why we need you:

In the coming weeks, advocates will go to Capitol Hill to educate policymakers about the bill and will point them to the #SaveMomsAndKids  Twitter campaign, where they will see your photos as evidence of your support for the issue.

Help us show members of Congress that there’s a growing chain of people around the world urging them to #SaveMomsAndKids

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submitted by Laura Edison
07/22/2015 at 11:49

Photo credit:

Hey, book lovers! As a follow up to our summer movie list, I thought I would develop my own list for the bookworms among us—an alternative summer reading list of books ranging from whimsical, to informative, to heartbreaking that relate to diarrheal disease (DD) and what we can do about it.

So get comfy on your favorite chair, beach blanket, or toilet, dive into these books, and let the inspirational DD advocacy ideas flow!

The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters by Rose George

This book is a sanitation advocate’s bible. Rose George travels the world and presents impressive research about the current state of sanitation. She shares colorful (and sometimes humorous) encounters with people and places alongside dismal facts about global lack of access to toilets and resulting waterborne illness, which kills about 7000 people every single day. She contends that, although flush toilets with sewers have helped decrease the burden of DD, they won't be sustainable in the long term due to their overuse of water. She asks readers why such a fundamental aspect of our lives remains on the margins of polite conversation and argues for sanitation to “be unshackled from shame.”

The DD take away:  Rose George is basically my hero, and this book is a phenomenal overview of most of the issues around DD and sanitation. It also provides some (unsavory) food for thought to spark discussion around future sanitation solutions. To defeat DD and prevent the hundreds of thousands of deaths it causes every year, we need to start talking about it! Check out our advocacy toolkit for useful tools to spread the word on DD—and what can be done about it—and remove the taboo around poo.

Gulp: Adventures Along the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach

In similar fashion to Rose George, Mary Roach tackles another taboo and often uncomfortable topic—digestion. The alimentary canal, or the “tube from mouth to rear,” has been the subject of much malice and misunderstanding, and Roach introduces us to the scientists who have taken the “plunge” and tackled questions no one else thinks—or has the courage—to ask. How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? How have ideas about digestion and fecal matter differed across time and culture? And what on earth is a fecal transplant?? Prepare to be thoroughly intrigued, disgusted, and enlightened.

The DD take away: Be careful what you put in your mouth! The digestive tract is a strange and fascinating world, and if the wrong thing gets in it, you can be downright miserable. Diarrheal disease can be caused by a wide variety of nasty viruses, bacteria, and parasites—all of which travel through your alimentary canal by way of ingestion. Learn about the different causes of diarrheal disease through this infographic.  

The Help by Kathryn Stockett (2008)

When 22-year-old Skeeter returns home to rural Mississippi after graduating from college in the early 1960s, she becomes interested in the plight of the African-American maids employed by most white families in her town. Skeeter writes and publishes their stories of mistreatment and abuse, including how most white families required separate toilets—often outhouses without plumbing—for these women. Furious, she takes action by asking people to donate their old toilets in lieu of the annual coat drive. An unpleasant woman thus wakes up to find her front yard full of toilets—and hilarity ensues. Also, there’s a story about a pie… but I won’t give that away.

The DD take away: Basic sanitation is a fundamental human right, and lack of access to toilets creates serious health risks; open defecation is a major contributor to diarrheal deaths. Even though over 50 years have passed since Skeeter’s time, 2.5 billion people worldwide still lack access to appropriate sanitation facilities or latrines today.

The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson

This book tells the true story of the cholera epidemic that occurred in London in 1854 and how it changed science, cities, and the modern world. At the time of the epidemic, London was dirty, overcrowded, and lacked a sewage system. When a mother washed her baby’s dirty diapers at a commonly used water pump, unaware of the danger, cholera spread like wildfire. It took innovation, science, and a simple, hand-drawn map for Dr. John Snow to discover the source of the cholera, stop the epidemic, and, in the process, form the “germ theory” of disease and the foundations of modern epidemiology.

The DD take away:  Cholera and other diarrheal disease epidemics are terrifying, and they still take place today where people lack access to sanitation. Because of the pioneering work of Dr. Snow and his followers, however, we now know that cholera and other diarrheal diseases are caused by germs, preventable through sanitation, and treatable through oral rehydration therapy and zinc.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

Sometimes the best how-to guides elucidate, step-by-step, what not to do. This work of fiction, a story of a missionary and his family who relocate to the Belgian Congo in 1959, is a great “how-not-to” guide for international development and global health programming, from the impractical items the family packed, to the inappropriate crops they planted, to their blatant disregard for the practical advice and wisdom of the community. And yet, through the death of one of the characters, the family learns that the anguish of parental grief at the loss of a child crosses all cultures.

The DD takeaway: The tragedy of preventable child deaths, no matter where they take place, is why we are fighting to defeat diarrheal disease. Diarrheal disease, which killed nearly 600,000 children under five years of age in 2013, is one of the most common illnesses among children in the developing world. The good news? This crisis can be solved with an integrated prevention and treatment approach.

Honorable mention: Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi

I couldn’t not include this classic illustrated children’s book celebrating one of life’s most common, natural, and important processes. Simple, straightforward, and delightful, this book will educate youngsters on the diversity—“an elephant makes a big poop, a mouse makes a tiny poop”—and commonality of pooping across the animal kingdom.

The DD take away: Well… everyone poops!



-- Laura Edison, Scientific Communications Associate, PATH


For more information:

-- More of a movie person? You're in good company. Check out our list of 5 films rated using our proprietary "toilet seats up" rating system. 

-- Speaking of cinema, here are 5 celebrities who aren't afraid to put diarrhea in the spotlight.

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submitted by Hope Randall
07/15/2015 at 11:31

It started with more than 500 global health innovations submitted by people in more than 50 countries.

Filtered through more than 60 independent health experts and a rating scale measuring factors like affordability, accessibility, and effectiveness, 30 high-impact innovations rose to the surface. The result: Reimagining Global Health, the inaugural report of the PATH-led Innovation Countdown 2030 Initiative (IC2030) to assess the innovations that hold the most game-changing potential for the global health landscape over the next fifteen years.

We know that investments in child health are some of the most practical investments that nations can make for their futures. So, our DefeatDD team was pleased to see that there are innovations in this report that directly address diarrheal disease.

Some of you may be thinking, “Now, hang on a minute. Don’t we already know how to prevent and treat diarrheal disease?” True enough, savvy advocate. We know what works, and we’ve dedicated our DefeatDD Initiative to raising awareness about how these solutions can prevent needless morbidity and death due to diarrhea.

But that’s not the end of the story. The solutions are essentially end goals, but the means are numerous. And an ongoing commitment to innovation – and conversation – about how to make their use practical, affordable, and accessible for the people who need them most is the best way to make the greatest impact.


You can find the diarrhea-specific innovations on page 17-18 of the report. Here’s a summary of what we’ll call “diarrhea solutions 2.0” and how they can complement and enhance our tried-and-true toolbox:

·         New treatments for severe diarrhea – specifically, treatments to supplement oral rehydration solution (ORS). ORS isn’t going anywhere; true to its name, its remarkably effective rehydrating properties have saved millions of lives. But despite its effectiveness, studies have revealed that demand is low in certain settings because it doesn’t reduce stool output: a main priority for many caregivers. There are also challenges regarding the ambitious recommended dosage. New treatments highlighted in the report aim to complement ORS and tackle these barriers.

·         Rice fortification – Malnutrition and repeated bouts of diarrhea create a vicious cycle that can threaten physical and cognitive development, education, and future productivity. But figuring out how to ensure adequate nutrition can be a tough nut to crack. Rice is a staple food in many parts of the world, making rice fortification a cost-effective and easily accessible wayfor families to ensure their children get the nutrition they need.

·         New tools for small-scale water treatment – Small-scale, BIG need. We’re not surprised it made the short list of innovations, because the best way to save lives, money, and suffering from diarrhea is to prevent it from happening in the first place. Simple, powerful technologies (like the SE200 Community Chlorine Maker) that can disinfect hundreds of liters in one use hold truly exciting potential.

Like I said, innovation is about conversation. Download the report and give us your take. Which innovations do you think hold the most potential? What would you like to see featured in a future report? (Innovative sanitation solutions would get my vote!) Join the conversation at #IC2030

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submitted by Lauren Newhouse
07/07/2015 at 18:50

Pop your poop-corn! It’s summer blockbuster season. Getting into the spirit, here’s my list of five must-see films that drive home the importance of diarrheal disease (DD) control. Whether funny or tragic, these flicks make our job at DefeatDD a little easier by bringing the act of going into the spotlight. Instead of thumbs up, I’m using a traditional “toilet seats up” () rating system on a scale of 1 to 5.

1 = “That’s inconvenient, but tolerable.”

2 = “That’s almost unbearable, but I could muscle through.”

3 = “I’d need to be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.”

4 = “I’d never get over that. Ever.”

5 = “I doubt I’d make it through alive.”

SPOILER ALERT! Some of the content below divulges plot points that might spoil the suspense AND your appetite. Consider yourself warned.

Sex and the City (2008) 

After being jilted at the altar, Carrie goes on her would-be honeymoon to Mexico with her three best friends Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte. Charlotte accidentally gets water into her mouth during a shower and comes down with a mean case of traveler’s diarrhea. The down side—she poops her pants in front of her friends. The up side—Carrie laughs so hard that she snaps out of her post-jilt funk. (I’ll admit, that would have cheered me up too.)

The DD take away:  Don’t drink the water … if you’re not sure it’s ok. Bacteria that sicken travelers also kill many thousands of children each year in areas with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. Since vaccines against important causes of bacterial diarrhea like ETEC and Shigella don’t yet exist, vaccine development is critical for giving children a first line of defense.


Wild (2014) 

To find herself again after her mother’s death and a self-destructive freefall, Cheryl hikes the more than 1,000 miles of the US Pacific Crest Trail—alone. Looking to avoid “beaver fever,” she battles a slow water purifier that gets clogged with pond scum, slow-acting iodine pills, and water shortages—learning the hard way about why clean water isn’t something to take for granted.

The DD take away: Clean water = survival. But it’s not easy to come by when at nature’s mercy. Important for avoiding water-borne illness, water purification takes considerable effort and resources that are unavailable in many parts of the world. That’s why simple, low-cost water treatment tools, like the SE 200 Community Chlorine Maker, are so vital for giving clean water to people that would otherwise be without.



Slumdog Millionaire (2008)  

Jamal is about to win big on the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” when he comes under suspicion for cheating. To clear his name, he explains how his correct answers stem from his experiences growing up in India’s urban slums. One story involves a young Jamal voluntarily jumping into the filth of a hanging latrine to get an autograph. Ack! Sorry, but ack!

The DD take away: Ok, whether or not jumping into a pool of poop for an autograph is worth it is beside the point. What’s important is that hanging latrines are a common feature of urban slums that deposit waste directly into open waterways, enabling diarrheal and other diseases to spread. You don’t have to fall into one to fall victim to its effects. Better sanitation options exist, but must be put within reach of the communities that need them for public health to improve.

Bridesmaids (2011) 

Broke, Annie hopes to affordably fulfill her maid-of-honor duties for her best friend’s wedding, but unravels as she tries to keep up with the other, more extravagant bridesmaids. In one of her more cringe-worthy blunders, she hosts the bride and bridesmaids for lunch at a local hole-in-the-wall prior to wedding dress shopping. At the bridal shop you can see it coming, but can’t look away as sweat beads, stomachs gurgle, and a wave of uncontrollable diarrhea hits each woman—making anything fair game to be used as a toilet (even a city street while wearing a wedding dress). Poo humor at its finest.

The DD take away: So, I realize this might not be the best example, but food-borne illness is truly no laughing matter. The dehydration caused by severe diarrhea is an all-to-common killer of children in the developing world. Rehydration is key, so tools like oral rehydration solution (ORS) can be lifesavers.

The Painted Veil (2006) 

Walter (a bacteriologist) and Kitty (his unfaithful wife) have a bitter marriage, but find love against the backdrop of a cholera epidemic in rural China. Barely able to keep up with the stream of cholera patients, Walter discovers burials by the river to be the source of the epidemic and constructs a water purification system that saves the village. Tragically, he too contracts the disease and dies, but not before his selflessness earns Kitty’s admiration and love.

The DD take away:  After emptying a box of tissues, the clear take away is the importance of proper disease prevention and treatment measures to avert public health crises. The severe diarrhea that cholera causes leads to more than 100,000 deaths per year. It can kill within hours if left untreated. In addition to clean water, ORS and vaccines are critical tools for staving off cholera emergencies, as is continued work on new drugs for infectious diarrhea that could bolster the toolkit.


Honorable mention: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

If not for diarrhea, the classic scene where Indiana Jones cavalierly shoots the sword-wielding henchman would have been as forgettable as the credits. Why? Because Harrison Ford was suffering from dysentery and couldn’t do the elaborate whip-sword fight scene that was planned. Instead, he just shot the swordsman and called it a day. The result, cinematic gold.

The DD take away: Diarrhea says, “You’re welcome, movie fans.”


See also: 5 celebrities who aren't afraid to talk shit

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submitted by Manabendranath Ray
06/29/2015 at 12:58

This week, Save the Children India (SCI) will begin implementation of its nationwide Stop Diarrhoea Initiative. Officially launched in India in March with support from Reckitt Benckiser, this Initiative implements the WHO/UNICEF seven-point plan to ensure comprehensive diarrhoea prevention and control.

The Initiative grew out of SCI’s work in water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH). Since January 2013, SCI has been working on an exclusive multi-state WASH project in Delhi, Bihar, West Bengal and Jharkhand to include both rural and urban settings. Under this project, SCI works with school children and teachers, community members, local institutions, community-based organizations in slum villages, brick kiln workers, and users of the community toilet complex.

The programme installed 20 brick kilns and 40 appropriate technologies for improved water and sanitation access in 40 slums, including household toilets, community sanitation blocks, and demonstrations of sanitary protection of water sources. In an attempt to get the message out to children, SCI implemented WASH programs in 90 schools where inclusive design of water, sanitation, and handwashing infrastructures were demonstrated.

SCI has also helped local government institutions deliver efficient services, test alternative approaches to rural toilet designs, and encourage strong community participation to repair and maintain toilet complexes.

Aware about the connection of unsanitary conditions with diarrhoea, one of the major contributors of infant and child mortality and morbidity, SCI launched the multi-state Diarrhoea Control Initiative in partnership with the state governments. States with high incidents of diarrhoea like Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Delhi and West Bengal will be covered under this intervention.

In these four states, the Initiative will cover six rural districts in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarkhand and four urban poor wards in Delhi and Kolkata. The intervention will also cover 400 schools. The four year project will cover a population of two million. SCI will also promote block models in rural areas and work to achieve Open Defecation-Free status over a period of three years – aligning to India’s ambitious Clean India Campaign.

This project is part of global partnership between ‘Save the Children UK’ and Reckitt Benckiser which is under implementation in India, Pakistan, and Nigeria.


-- Manabendranath Ray is Deputy Program Director and Asad Umar is Team Leader ‘Stop Diarrhoea’ Initiative Save the Children India.  


Photo credits: Save the Children India 

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