Researchers at the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, Scotland, this week described a device that collects water quality data to “chec[k] supplies in real-time, alerting users to possible infections,” and “upload[s] the data, allowing scientists to monitor the location and movement of outbreaks,” BBC News reports. The researchers said the device, called the Water Canary, “could prove invaluable for governments around the world keen to contain disease and environmental disasters,” according to the news service (Wakefield, 7/13).
Water and Sanitation
USAID and the National Science Foundation (NSF) on Thursday launched the Partnerships for Enhanced Engagement in Research (PEER) initiative to “provide grants to developing world partners of NSF U.S. grantees,” with the goal of supporting “applied research â€“ science in support of development â€“ in areas of global concern such as climate change, biodiversity, water issues, agriculture, seismic hazards and deforestation,” SciDev.Net reports (Tatalovic, 7/8).
Significant progress is being made toward reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline, but the poorest countries are not progressing as quickly and more must be done to improve health and development outcomes in those nations, according to this year’s MDG report (.pdf), VOA News reports. “Despite the global economic downturn and the food and energy crises, we are on track to meet the MDG targets for poverty-reduction,” U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said at the launch of the report on Thursday in Geneva (Schlein, 7/7).
“Evidence ‘strongly suggests’ that a United Nations peacekeeping mission brought a cholera strain to Haiti that has killed thousands of people,” according to a study conducted by a team of epidemiologists and physicians and published in the July issue of the CDC journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, the Associated Press reports. The Haitian government has recorded more than 363,000 cases of cholera more than 5,500 deaths since the outbreak began in October.
More than 18,000 cases of cholera have been recorded in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince since the beginning of May, an increase that may be related to “the beginning of the rainy season and the flooding that hit the capital,” according to Tarik Jasarevic, a WHO spokesperson, Agence France-Presse reports.
In its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC describes “global public health achievements â€¦ that occurred outside of the United States during 2001-2010.” Gains in public health efforts, such as preventing child mortality, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases, have improved longevity and “resulted from improved living conditions overall, advances in medical science, and a number of population-level interventions. However, major disparities persist. During the past decade, in low-income countries, average life expectancy at birth increased from 55 to 57 years (3.6%), while increasing from 78 to 80 years (2.6%) in high-income countries,” the article notes (6/24).
Three cases of cholera have been confirmed in the Democratic Republic of Congo capital of Kinshasa, “home to at least 9 million people, many of whom live in cramped, unsanitary conditions,” Reuters reports.
The U.N. on Tuesday “launched a major push to accelerate progress towards the goal of halving, by 2015, the proportion of the population without access to basic sanitation,” according to the U.N. News Centre (6/21).
“That 2.6 billion people live each day without a proper toilet is shocking,” Willem-Alexander, the Prince of Orange who is also chair of the U.N. Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, writes in an opinion piece in the Hurriyet Daily News, which marks the launch of a U.N. effort to build political will for sanitation.
Fast Company reports on actor Matt Damon’s work to promote development and access to clean water in Africa.