I've been traveling the past three weeks in Bangladesh and West Bengal visiting water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) organizations and their field programs.
I've covered a fair amount of ground and have seen the work of international as well as local NGOs.
In remote villages of Western Kenya, children are asked to bring water to school.
They collect water around the house or along their journey to school each day in a variety of worn containers of varying sizes. They collect surface water often turbid and filled with dirt, mud and possibly fecal matter that can cause diarrhea—often with terrible consequences. Before our safe water project started in their schools, the children would drink this water without any treatment.
With the devastating flooding in Pakistan, health and aid officials are once again sounding the global alarm to prevent outbreaks of diarrhea.
WHO projects that up to 1.5 million cases of diarrheal diseases could occur in Pakistan over the next three months.
This same problem emerged quickly following the Haiti earthquake in January of this year, and appears every time cyclones, flooding, or earthquakes decimate a community. These crisis outbreaks of diarrhea tend to get attention, but what about the common tragedy of children dying from diarrhea every day?
... I would be at the end of my life expectancy 1; I am 42 years old. Andy Rooney of 60 Minutes fame has been quoted as saying, “Death is a distant rumor to the young.”2 It is a profoundly naive and perhaps uniquely American thought.
What will you do to mark the occasion?
Last year, Global Handwashing Day was celebrated by over 200 million school children around the world. Find out how you can join by celebrating at your school, organization or community this Friday, October 15. For ideas on what you can do visit www.globalhandwashingday.org You can also join us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/globalhandwashingday
What’s simple, affordable and can reduce your risk of illness by 45 percent?
Proper handwashing with soap, of course. In fact, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control call handwashing “the best way to prevent infection and illness.”
This week, PATH is co-hosting a symposium – along with the Vietnamese Ministry of Health and Vietnam’s National Pediatric Hospital – on the importance of taking an integrated approach to defeating diarrheal disease.
The gathering will bring together health professionals from around the Mekong Delta region.
On an outing long ago with my Aunt Frieda, I needed to use the bathroom.
This struck her as a calamity because she had a horror of public bathrooms, and she was frantic about me not touching any surface in the rather nice and clean department store rest room. Like most public bathrooms in the US, it had private stalls, flushable toilets, hot water, and soap.
We have heard many times that beauty is in the eye of the beholder and, while one might not immediately see the connection between beauty and a toilet, investments in sanitation can literally make the difference between life and death.
This would be a beautiful thing for the 2.6 billion people worldwide who lack access to adequate sanitation.
Public speaking doesn’t typically make me nervous, but on Friday, I took advantage of my free drink ticket before taking the stage to talk to a group of young DC professionals about diarrhea. While this topic is familiar enough in global health circles, I’m never quite certain how the public at large will react. Will they laugh without taking the message seriously? Wrinkle their noses in disgust? Lose attention completely?