Water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink

In the October issue of Emerging Infectious Diseases, James Hughes and Jeffrey Koplan discuss the problem of safe water. Hazardous drinking water and poor sanitation is something that gets brought up when there's a disaster (like Katrina, or the tsunami earlier this year), but many people don't realize that a large portion of the earth's population has to deal with this situation everyday.

Unsafe water is a global public health threat, placing persons at risk for a host of diarrheal and other diseases as well as chemical intoxication. Unsanitary water has particularly devastating effects on young children in the developing world. Each year, >2 million persons, mostly children An estimated 1.1 billion persons (one sixth of the world's population) lack access to clean water and 2.6 billion to adequate sanitation.

(Emphasis mine). Just incredible. The rest of the article discusses activities targeted at addressing this travesty, but notes:

The United States currently ranks last among the 22 member countries of the Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in net official development assistance provided to developing countries, when such assistance is measured as a percentage of gross national income.

Again, this is an area where you can use your voice and your vote to help make a difference. For the amount of money spent on projects like this, the benefit is enormous.

More like this

It seems with every terrible natural disaster we have to say the same thing. Dead bodies aren't a public health risk: Contrary to popular belief, dead bodies left from natural disasters such as the China earthquake and Myanmar cyclone are not a source of disease or a health threat to survivors, the…
Two years ago, a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, killing 300,000 Haitians and leaving 1.5 million homeless. Nine months later, a cholera epidemic began -- its first victim a 28-year-old man who bathed in and drank from a river that was likely contaminated by raw sewage from an encampment of UN…
I noted in my post about Pakistan that a shortage of clean water for millions of flood victims may lead to outbreaks of diarrheal diseases. It's worth getting into the issue of how unclean water causes these diseases. Basically, the problem is water contaminated by human feces. In Clinical…
The Council of Science Editors has organized 235 journals from 37 countries are publishing more than 750 articles on poverty and human development this week. For its theme issue, PLoS Medicine asked a variety of commentators from around the world to name the single intervention that they think…