Jason Nickerson, a respiratory therapist and doctoral candidate in Population Health at the University of Ottawa, in this Global Health Hub post, recounts recent controversy surrounding “the health and humanitarian response to the earthquake and cholera outbreaks” in Haiti, noting tension “between the provision of [a cholera] vaccine as opposed to spending…
Water and Sanitation
In this CNN opinion piece, Jenna Davis — a faculty member in Stanford University’s Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, where her research and teaching focuses on water, sanitation and health, and a former member of the U.N. Millennium Task Force for Water and Sanitation — reports on what she calls a “global sanitation crisis,” writing, “More than 40 percent of the world’s population does not have access to a toilet. These 2.6 billion people, most living in low- and middle-income countries in Asia and Africa, face the daily challenge of finding a bush, train track or empty lot where they can urinate and defecate in relative privacy.”
“The United Nations independent expert on access to water and sanitation as a human right [on Saturday] urged States to allocate more resources to improving sanitation and promote efficient use of existing hygiene facilities, stressing that people are entitled to decent toilets,” the U.N. News Centre reports. “‘Lack of sanitation implies the loss of millions of school and work days as well as enormous health costs,’ said Catarina de Albuquerque, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Human Right to Safe Drinking Water and Sanitation, in a statement to mark the World Toilet Day, which is observed on 19 November each year,” the news service writes (11/19).
Inter Press Service examines how doctors and aid workers in and around Mogadishu, Somalia, “are warning that famine victims in internally displaced camps have become vulnerable to contagious diseases like cholera and measles, as conditions here are ripe for an outbreak.” Sanitation and access to food and drinking water are the greatest concerns, IPS reports, adding that “[w]hile international aid continues to be delivered to Somalia, relief efforts at some camps have dwindled or stopped.” The news service writes, “The Somali government’s Mogadishu spokesman Mohamed Abdullahi Arig told IPS that the government needed help to prevent a possible cholera outbreak and to prevent other communicable diseases from spreading in the camps. ‘The government is more vigilant, but our capacity is too little. We need the international community’s assistance in this sector,’ Arig said” (Abokar, 11/17).
“Health authorities say 207 cases of typhoid are being treated in Zimbabwe’s capital after a prolonged spell of unusually hot weather amid acute water shortages,” the Associated Press/Seattle Times reports. Prosper Chonzi, Harare city council health director, “said Tuesday the disease will be difficult to contain in impoverished townships relying on water from shallow, makeshift wells and marshlands,” and that “humanitarian agencies have been asked to help provide clean water,” the news service writes.
As part of its “CNN Heroes” series, CNN examines the Global Soap Project, started by Derreck Kayongo, a Ugandan war refugee and one of the Top 10 CNN Heroes of 2011. The organization works with more than 300 hotels in the U.S. to collect used bars of soap, clean them and reprocess them to be distributed in countries such as Haiti, Kenya, Swaziland and Uganda, CNN reports. “Across the globe, 2.4 billion people do not have access to clean sanitation, according to the World Health Organization,” and “[a]n estimated 1.5 million children die every year because their immune systems are not mature enough to battle diarrheal and respiratory diseases spread in contaminated environments,” the news service writes (Fantz, 11/15).
“Cholera has broken out in the world’s largest refugee camp in Kenya, home to nearly 500,000 Somali refugees, the United Nations said on Tuesday,” Reuters reports (Nebehay, 11/15). “There are now 60 cases of cholera in [Kenya’s Dadaab complex], including 10 laboratory-confirmed cases and one refugee death, according to Andrej Mahecic, a spokesperson for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR),” the U.N. News Centre writes.
Health Of Millions Of Children In East Asia, Pacific At Risk Due To Climate Change, UNICEF Report Says
“Climate change is expected to worsen the plight of millions of children in East Asia and the Pacific who already lack food and clean water and are vulnerable to disease, … UNICEF said Monday … in its report (.pdf) ‘Children’s vulnerabilities to climate change and disaster impacts in East Asia and the Pacific,'” AlertNet reports. “‘Higher temperatures have been linked to increased rates of malnutrition, cholera, diarrheal disease and vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria,’ putting children at far greater risk of contracting these diseases and succumbing to their complications, the report said,” the news service writes.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation presents an infographic on reinventing the toilet, as “2.6 billion people still don’t have a safe, affordable way to poop.” The Gates Foundation also includes links to a video and additional information about its work in sanitation (11/14).
“[A] lack of action on climate change and habitat destruction will threaten the progress of developing countries,” because environmental sustainability affects “a wide range of social issues,” including “health, education, income, gender disparities and energy production, combined with protection of the ecosystem,” according to the U.N. Development Programme’s (UNDP) Human Development Report 2011, titled, “Sustainability and Equity: a Better Future for All,” VOA News reports. The report “argues that if you invest in people’s health and schooling, the population will be a better keeper of its environmental resources over the long term,” according to the news service (Lewis, 11/8).