Yael Velleman, WaterAid, is on hand at the World Health Assembly to make certain that safe water and sanitation gets the attention it deserves.
Summer is almost here – and with it come the holidays, and necessarily the flights to far and exotic places. We all know the rewards but also the risks: traveller’s diarrhoea is one of the common issues we will all face at one point or another. We all know the rules that go with travel to the less ‘developed’ destinations – don’t drink the tap water, don’t eat raw vegetables.
A health care worker demonstrates simple and effective hand-washing techniques.
"You can be extremely poor but extremely clean." If there ever was a statement that dispelled assumptions about the correlation between hygiene and poverty, it was this statement from Rwanda’s Minister for health in his opening remarks at a pro poor sanitation and hygiene workshop recently held in Kigali, Rwanda.
Today marks the second day of the Global Health Council’s 38th annual International Conference in Washington, DC and events are in full swing. Spanning the entire week, global health professionals and organizations from all over the world gather to be a part of an exciting health conversation. This year, the Health/WaSH Coalition decided to do something different—something new to engage conference attendees in an innovative and interactive conversation about an issue that needs some healthy attention.
Alfred Ochola points to the title of his panel at the Global Health Conference: "WaSHing (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) to Improve Health in Developing Countries: Opportunities and Obstacles."
I was thrilled when I learned that Alfred, our diarrheal disease control program implementer in Western Kenya, was going to take his first trip to the United States to speak at the Global Health Council Conference. He had been a tireless, gracious host during my two trips to Kenya, and I was excited for the opportunity to return the favor.
How can we make an impact on child health in far-away countries for those of us who are working from our desks in the US?
We think this is an incredibly important question, and so do our Facebook friends. In fact, when we recently interviewed Alfred Ochola, our DD program implementer in Western Kenya, one of you asked Alfred for his thoughts on the matter. Here’s what he had to say:
This question is fundamental to child survival and therefore needs more than a one-line answer or solution. The following points may help:
Over 800 delegates and 35 ministers from African countries are in Rwanda for a three-day conference that aims at improving sanitation and hygiene to prevent illnesses like diarrhoea.
Officials highlighted that 230 million people in Africa still practice open defecation and poor hygiene, major ways through which diseases like diarrhoea arise.
One of the challenges facing peri-urban areas like Cochabamba, Bolivia, is a growing population with little access to basic water and sanitation services. This results in diarrhea and other sickness and sometimes death.
In my work to raise awareness about the global burden of diarrheal disease, I read a lot about the many benefits of safe water and sanitation, including the promise it holds for girls and women. But whenever I think about its impact, I don’t think of a specific report or news article. I think about a timid, obedient girl I met in a tiny village in Western Kenya. She moved carefully in a bright green dress as she demonstrated how she gathers water for her family from a contaminated spring.
Call it what you will: joining up or combining interventions, integration or disaggregation. Whatever you call it, it is essential to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and to alleviating poverty and disease.
Each year new challenges surface across the water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector, yet with proven solutions these challenges are solvable. The problem is sometimes the proven solutions need a technological leg-up. Let’s be clear, technology alone is not the solution, but it is improbable to think that implementing non-profits along with the community and local government can fix all of the WASH problems of the world sustainably without a little help from technology.