Breaking the poo taboo… over breakfast?

May 14, 2015


Deborah Kidd
science writer

It's definitely not the most popular meal-time topic, but guests of PATH's annual Breakfast for Global Health graciously heard me out last week as I discussed diarrhea—the burden, gaps, interventions, and PATH's part in defeating it. Some nodded knowingly, others  raised their eyebrows. But across the board, everyone shared the vision of a world where all children have opportunities for healthy lives, and the determination to be a part of the solution.

A lifelike diorama of a typical rural Cambodian home served as my backdrop, much like the homes that welcomed PATH in 2011 for a project to assess an integrated, community-based approach to childhood diarrhea and pneumonia. If we want to improve child health, I told guests, we have to defeat diarrhea and pneumonia. In and around the home, common risks were apparent: uncovered food, contaminated water, an indoor wood-burning stove, livestock roaming where children played just outside the window.

Alongside the risks, a colorful photo collage displayed the simple solutions available today to prevent and treat diarrhea and pneumonia—tools that are proven, affordable, and saving lives. We shared PATH's broad work on child health, like user-centered design for latrines, improved access to zinc and ORS in rural villages, new vaccines against pneumonia and diarrhea.

‘PATH's Devices and Tools team joined me to share their innovative technologies that are simplifying access to filtered water in poor communities and breaking down financial barriers to a family's opportunity to buy clean cookstoves and latrines.

Creative, thoughtful, and inclusive strategies are essential to bring these tools farther than ever before and keep kids safe. PATH has put a spotlight on child health as one of four pillars in our aim to reach higher, bringing the hope of a healthy future into the world's poorest places. If I can do my part by broaching an uncomfortable topic as a prelude to an inspiring breakfast, I'll be there!

And be there I will, again, as PATH hosts its eastside supporters at the Breakfast for Global Health in Bellevue, WA. Pick up your ticket here, or catch coverage of the Seattle breakfast online!