In a policy paper published in Science on Thursday, researchers praised China’s January 2011 plan to address water shortages and conservation in the nation, but “the researchers said this commitment won’t be enough unless disparate agencies learn to communicate and coordinate with each other,” Reuters reports. “They described a web of government entities with seemingly contradictory missions, and actions that appear to go against one policy as they promote another,” the news service writes, adding, for example, “The government encourages urbanization, the report said, but protection of water supplies gets less attention compared to energy issues, even though water is absolutely essential to human life.” Reuters continues, “To solve these problems, the authors recommended focusing on increasing water efficiency along with work to understand the complex relationships among agencies and people with competing claims on water” (Zabarenko, 8/9).
Water and Sanitation
“Cuba’s government declared Tuesday that health workers had eradicated a cholera outbreak that infected 417 people and killed three, according to a statement from the country’s Health Ministry,” CNN reports (Oppmann, 8/28). The government said this year’s heavy rains and high temperatures raised the risk of waterborne diarrheal diseases, the Associated Press/Boston.com notes (8/28). The cholera outbreak began in Granma province’s Manzanillo, about 560 miles east of Havana, and the government said other cases “associated” with the outbreak occurred in other areas of the province, the neighboring provinces of Santiago de Cuba and Guantanamo, and in the capital of Havana, according to EFE/Fox News Latino. “Despite the fact that it said the outbreak was ‘concluded,’ the Cuban government is also saying it will maintain its vigilance to avoid ‘the recurrence of new cases,'” the news service writes (8/28).
In tandem with Africa Water Week, the African Minister’s Council on Water (AMCOW) Summit kicked off in Johannesburg, South Africa, Monday, where discussions will center on ways to increase the water supply in Africa, Bua News/allAfrica.com reports (11/9).
Also In Global Health: Child Sexual Abuse In Zimbabwe; Dengue Outbreak In Cape Verde; Program Reduces Waste In Kenya Slums
Mail & Guardian Examines Sexual Abuse Of Children In Zimbabwe The Mail & Guardian examines how the “economic collapse” in Zimbabwe has contributed to rising numbers of children falling victims to sexual abuse. “A single clinic in the capital, Harare, says it has treated nearly 30,000 girls and boys who…
African leaders concluded the Second Africa Water Week on Friday, with an appeal for “concrete actions to meet the water and sanitation needs in the continent,” Xinhua reports.
IRIN examines how local Zimbabwean farmers’ usage of water containing raw sewage to irrigate their crops poses a risk of disease transmission to people who consume the vegetables. In the capital Harare, less than half of the raw sewage produced is treated before being sent back into tributaries, according to IRIN, which notes, “In a recent report, Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda said 60 percent of the capital’s residents did not have access to clean water, and 10 percent relied on boreholes and unprotected wells.” Since a cholera outbreak in 2008, UNICEF and other international donors have been helping Zimbabwean municipalities treat their water, but the UNICEF program is winding down, leaving some unsure whether local authorities “can go it alone,” IRIN writes (4/16).
“Nearly 780 million people are deprived of safe drinking water — and 2.5 billion lack access to improved sanitation — all because governments aren’t spending scarce resources wisely, according to a joint report [.pdf] of the World Health Organization and U.N.-Water,” VOA News reports. Though “more than two billion people gained access to safe drinking water and 1.8 billion gained access to improved sanitation” between 1990 and 2010, billions of people still lack these basic services, the report noted, according to the news service.
“A year and a half after cholera first struck Haiti, a tiny portion of the population on Thursday began getting vaccinated against the waterborne disease that has infected more than 530,000 Haitians and killed more than 7,040,” the New York Times reports (Sontag, 4/12). The pilot project, which will reach only one percent of Haiti’s population, “aim[s] … to show that it’s possible to give the required two doses over a two-week period to desperately poor and hard-to-reach people,” NPR’s health blog “Shots” writes. “If it works, the plan is to convince the Haitian government, deep-pocketed donors and international health agencies to support a much bigger campaign to vaccinate millions of Haitians at highest risk of cholera,” according to the blog (Knox, 4/12).
“The United Nations [on Tuesday] announced a new initiative to help eliminate cholera in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, the two nations that make up the Caribbean island of Hispaniola,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘The new initiative will invest in prevention, treatment, and education — it will take a holistic approach to tackling the cholera challenge,’ said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the initiative’s launch,” according to the news service (12/11). “With the number of reported cases exceeding 620,000 since the epidemic started in October 2010, [Ban] acknowledged the ‘heavy toll’ as he launched the 10-year initiative,” Agence France-Presse writes.
“Scientists say the cholera outbreak that struck more than 7,000 people in Guinea this year was caused by a more toxic and more contagious generation of the bacteria,” and they “suspect the same strain killed nearly 300 people and struck more than 22,000 others in neighboring Sierra Leone,” VOA News reports. “Through genetic sequencing of the cholera bacteria found in Guinea, epidemiologists working with the United Nations Children’s Fund [UNICEF] have identified them as atypical variants of the O1 El Tor strain,” the news service writes. Francois Bellet, a member of UNICEF’s regional office for West and Central Africa, “said this discovery raises the alert level, requiring stronger epidemiological surveillance, preparedness and response to cholera outbreaks in Guinea and throughout the region,” according to VOA (Palus, 12/20). “This type of strain was present in Zimbabwe in 2009, in the Lake Chad Basin in 2009, and is found in Haiti currently,” IRIN notes (12/18).