Posts Tagged Water and Sanitation

Why You Shouldn’t Take Your Toilet for Granted on World Toilet Day

November 19th, 2013

Photo by Flickr user SuSanA Secretariat

Photo by Flickr user SuSanA Secretariat

If you’re reading this blog post, chances are you’ve used a toilet recently. It’s also likely you’ve never really considered how fortunate you are to have access to that toilet. Could you imagine what it would be like to leave your house in the middle of the night to relieve yourself outside rather than inside the safety and privacy of a clean bathroom stall?

Today is World Toilet Day and we’re recognizing the 2.5 billion people around the world who do not have access to a toilet (that’s about 1/3 of the world’s population!). The magnitude of this problem is significant.  Without a toilet, people are forced to defecate outside – an act that compromises a person’s dignity, privacy and safety, and leaves billions susceptible to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

Schistosomiasis and intestinal worm infections such as roundworm, hookworm and whipworm are easily spread in communities that do not have access to toilets or sanitation facilities. Schistosomiasis spreads when infected people urinate or defecate close to a water source, contaminating it with the larvae of the parasite. Without proper infrastructure (toilets and city utilities) more than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas and promoting the spread of NTDs.

Simply walking barefoot around this polluted and contaminated water leaves people exposed to NTDs. As a result, people can be continually re-infected as they work, play, bathe or eat. Children especially have a high risk of contracting these diseases because they often play barefoot outside and put their hands in their mouths without washing them.

According to the World Health Organization, improving water, sanitation and hygiene can reduce trachoma by 27 percent, and improved sanitation could reduce schistosomiasis by as much as 77 percent.

By combining NTD treatment, hygiene education and creative solutions for the 2.5 billion people without access to toilets, we can tackle this problem. Important work is being done by several partner organizations to promote better water, sanitation and hygiene worldwide. The Global Network is also happy to work with former president of Ghana John A. Kufuor to promote long term NTD solutions by integrating mass drug administration with programs for water, sanitation and hygiene – a message the former president drove home at this year’s World Water Week in Stockholm, sweeden.

To learn more about the links between clean water, sanitation and NTDs, watch our quick video here

Calling All Collaborators to Eliminate Intestinal Worms in Children

September 27th, 2013

Pictured from left to right: John A. Jufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana (2001-2009) and Global Network NTD Special Envoy; Bill Lin, director of Worldwide Corporate Contributions at Johnson & Johnson; Dr. Lorenzo Savioli, director of the Department of NTDs at WHO; Kathy Spahn, President and CEO of Helen Keller International (HKI); and Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor at ABC News

Pictured from left to right: John A. Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana (2001-2009) and Global Network NTD Special Envoy; Bill Lin, director of Worldwide Corporate Contributions at Johnson & Johnson; Dr. Lorenzo Savioli, director of the Department of NTDs at WHO; Kathy Spahn, President and CEO of Helen Keller International (HKI); and Dr. Richard Besser, chief health and medical editor at ABC News

“What we want to do is produce quality of life for the people.” – H.E. John A. Kufuor, President of the Republic of Ghana (2001-2009) and Global Network NTD Special Envoy

We have been 50 cents per person per year, we must garner greater attention, collaboration and political will to see the end of horrible suffering in the world’s most neglected communities.

We are certainly hopeful.

It was fitting that in the height of UNGA meetings, the undercutting many Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

“Business as usual” simply wouldn’t do! So, our event, “Innovate & Integrate: Multi-sectoral Approaches for Eliminating Intestinal Worms in Children,” set out to explore how and why organizations in the fields of NTDs; water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH); nutrition; maternal and child health; and education can collaborate on this issue to ensure lasting advancements.

Bill Lin presents on NTDs and WASH

Bill Lin presents on NTDs and WASH

Bill Lin, director of Worldwide Corporate Contributions at Johnson & Johnson, opened with his experience growing up in a rural area outside of Hong Kong. Forever imprinted on him was the constant chanting of “wash your hands” and “don’t put your hands in your mouth.” “You [couldn’t] get clean water just by flipping a faucet.” Bill explained.

Bleak living conditions then and now have caused the perpetual transmission of intestinal worms. Therefore, we must not only distribute medicines to control STH infections but also work with partners to stop them from spreading. “There is a clear need for the education [and] health sectors to work together” to encourage behavioral changes.

Helen Keller International (HKI).

Recognizing that we were talking about “a disease that isn’t killing a lot of people” during a “busy week in New York,” Dr. Besser asked Dr. Savioli, “why does [STH] deserve attention?”

Optimistically, Dr. Lorenzo responded, “We can do something about it. We are eradicating guinea worm, we have the drugs to treat intestinal helminths … we can really interrupt transmission. We can make a difference with the tools we have in our hands.”

President Kufuor chimed in, “our goal is to seek solutions.” Speaking from his experiences in making NTD and WASH advancements as President of Ghana, including tremendous strides in the effort to eliminate guinea worm, President Kufuor noted that behavior change was critical, including “show[ing]  [people] how to boil water.” President Kufuor also stressed that the successes he oversaw were due to implementing policies that educated the public and provided infrastructure, and knowing when to “seek international help.”

Dr. Besser then asked Kathy, “Why does HKI think this is an important problem to tackle?”

Kathy answered that STH infections are “incredibly disabling” and threaten worker productivity, children’s attendance in school and the ability of children to achieve. We’re “really talking about the posterity of the country unless these diseases are tackled,” Kathy said.

Dr. Besser then asked President Kufuor about the widespread impact of intestinal worms. President Kufuor stated, “Worms prevent kids from getting full benefits. … The economy isn’t well when people have worms. … We tackle the problem from the source.”

President Kufuor also touched on a devastating consequence of STH infections: the impact on pregnant women and their babies: “Even with mothers, if they do not look after themselves well with what they eat, what they drink, then the fetus will not mature the way it should.”

Addressing the economic impact, Dr. Besser asked Dr. Savioli, “What evidence is there that these type of control efforts make a difference?” Dr. Savioli recognized that there is huge economic growth occurring in Africa, and that “those countries doing best in the African continent with NTDs are the ones that are doing better economically.”

Asking Kathy about whether it’s “idealistic to think that you can accomplish cross-sector integration,” Dr. Besser said, “Can it happen?” To which Kathy responded, “Nothing can happen unless you work cross-sectorally.”

Wrapping up the interviews, Dr. Besser asked, “If the MDGs don’t list NTDs, what does that mean?”

Dr. Savioli noted, “We need to put pressure to make sure that happens” and that, thanks to “a unique relationship between international organizations, NGOs, endemic states and the private sector,” we have a “historically unique” opportunity “in the history of public health.”

Kathy shared that we need to go beyond the drugs, giving the example of HKI’s partnership with Johnson & Johnson to develop curriculums in education – hand washing, face washing – in Cambodia to realize tremendous successes.

It’s no wonder that after the interviews and audience Q&A, Dr. Besser said, he has “about 50 more questions [he] would love to ask” and that we’re “fortunate to have such different perspectives on this problem.” STH is different in that the solution is known, and that “it’s a problem of will and resources to implement the solution,” Dr. Besser concluded.

In his closing remarks, Dr. Savioli stated, “We have the scientific evidence that when you treat people regularly, the morbidity goes down.” However, “countries have to be at the center of it” because “countries that have done well have performed better” in economic, health and other development markers.

“You deprive the country if you don’t do it,” Kathy closed.

Thanks to all for such an engaging, thought-provoking event! We look forward to seeing how cross-sectoral collaborationcan make a difference in STH control and elimination in children.

Handwashing: Is it really all that simple?

October 15th, 2011

Happy Children Without Worms:

By: Kerry Gallo, Children Without Worms

Since joining Water and Health: Where Science Meets Policy Conference in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

I’ve written before about the importance of partnerships between the NTD and WASH sectors. CWW advocates for the WASHED Framework (Water, Sanitation, Hygiene Education and Deworming) as a comprehensive strategy for prevention and treatment of intestinal worms. Our role is to partner with drug companies to coordinate the donations of deworming medications, such as albendazole from GlaxoSmithKline and mebendazole from Johnson & Johnson. But since we are not WASH program implementers, we turn to our partners to complement deworming with the administration of hygiene education and improvements to water and sanitation infrastructure.

It was in the role of partner and advocate for WASHED that I attended the conference and met with many colleagues representing various WASH organizations. One event that was discussed with excitement was Global Handwashing Day.

Handwashing—what could be more simple? It seems like such an incredibly basic activity to us, but for kids in low resource settings around the world, it may not be so simple. Read more: Handwashing: Is it really all that simple?

More from World Water Week 2011

September 7th, 2011

FEMSA Foundation had our very own session during the conference entitled “Focus Latin America and the Caribbean: Fighting Poverty in Latin America: Integrating Water and Health Initiatives.” Panelists convened to take in-depth look at NTDs in Latin America and the Caribbean, and  to discuss promising strategies to sustainably reduce the burden of NTDs within the region. Below are photos from the session:

Our booth during the event.

Panelists (from left to right): Ann Kelly, Partner, Global Philanthropy Group and The Global Water Initiative of the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, Vidal Garza Cantú, Director, FEMSA Foundation, Neeraj Mistry, Managing Director, Global Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases, Carlos de Paco, Operations Lead Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank, and Moderator Gian-Carlo Ochoa, Board Member, Charity Water.

Group photo with Global Network Managing Director Dr. Neeraj Mistry and event participants.