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To Improve Global Health, Toilets Must Be Redesigned To Work Without Connection To Sanitation Grid

“The toilet is a magnificent thing. … Unfortunately it is an impractical luxury for about two-thirds of the world’s seven billion people because it relies on connections to water and sewerage systems that must be built and maintained at great expense,” a Bloomberg editorial writes. “About 40 percent of all people, an estimated 2.6 billion of them, have no access to even a minimally sanitary facility, according to the World Health Organization,” and “[t]he result is illness and early death. Diarrheal diseases, including those linked to improper sanitation, are the second largest killer in the developing world, taking two million lives annually,” the editorial continues.

“Vaccines and medicines against these diseases help. But the ultimate solution is to address the problem at its root,” the editorial states, adding, “Doing so requires reimagining the toilet. First, new designs are required for toilets that are hygienic, pleasant, and cheap to make and use, and that work without being connected to a grid.” The editorial discusses several “designs being developed by eight university teams funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation” and concludes, “For gridless sanitation to be economical, commerce needs to flourish around the collection and treatment of excrement. Government agencies and charitable business associations could help by offering local businesses small grants, loans and expert guidance to encourage this enterprise” (4/8).