Category Archives: Sanitation and Health

New nanotechnology to produce sustainable, clean water for developing nations – National Science Foundation

Published on Oct 3, 2016

Tease: This technology would enable communities to produce their own water filters using biomass nanofibers, making clean water more accessible and affordable

Description: The world’s population is projected to increase by 2-3 billion over the next 40 years. Already, more than three quarters of a billion people lack access to clean drinking water and 85 percent live in the driest areas of the planet. Those statistics are inspiring chemist Ben Hsiao and his team at Stony Brook University. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the team is hard at work designing nanometer-scale water filters that could soon make clean drinking water available and affordable for even the poorest of the poor.

Traditional water filters are made of polymer membranes with tiny pores to filter out bacteria and viruses. Hsiao’s filters are made of fibers that are all tangled up, and the pores are the natural gaps between the strands. The team’s first success at making the new nanofilters uses a technique called electrospinning to produce nanofibers under an electrical field.

Hsaio’s team is also looking to cut costs even further by using “biomass” nanofibers extracted from trees, grasses, shrubs — even old paper. Hsiao says it will be a few years yet before the environmentally friendly biomass filters are ready for widespread use in developing countries, but the filters will eliminate the need to build polymer plants in developing areas. Ultimately, those filters could be produced locally with native biomass or biowaste.

The research in this episode was supported by NSF award #1019370, Breakthrough Concepts on Nanofibrous Membranes with Directed Water Channels for Energy-Saving Water Purification.

NSF Grant URL: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showA…

 

Which way’s up? – a closer look at the sanitation ladder

Which way’s up? – a closer look at the sanitation ladder. CLTS Blog, October 14, 2016.

Now that the first year of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is almost over, it’s no surprise that a lot of the conversation at the UNC Water and Health Conference this week has centred on how WASH-related targets (mostly within Goal 6) will be met and, in particular, how they will be monitored. jmp-ladders

The complexity (and sheer number) of targets appear to be nothing short of a monitoring nightmare, but one which many in the field have enthusiastically embraced as an opportunity to build on previous monitoring processes.

Representatives from the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP) kicked off the week with a presentation focused on the sanitation and hygiene targets. Of note is the introduction of a clearly defined ladder for reporting on the progress of hand washing – notably absent in the MDGs.

Most of the discussion was focused on the sanitation ladder and in particular the renaming of the category ‘shared’ to ‘limited service’ (at least, within the presentation!) which re-opened a long-standing debate about shared sanitation facilities. I recall a heated session at the 2014 WASH Conference in Brisbane, Australia, convened by Catarina Fonseca (IRC).

Continue reading

Risk Factors for Childhood Stunting in 137 Developing Countries: A Comparative Risk Assessment Analysis at Global, Regional, and Country Levels

Risk Factors for Childhood Stunting in 137 Developing Countries: A Comparative Risk Assessment Analysis at Global, Regional, and Country Levels. PLoS Medicine, November 2016.

Background – Stunting affects one-third of children under 5 y old in developing countries, and 14% of childhood deaths are attributable to it. A large number of risk factors for stunting have been identified in epidemiological studies. However, the relative contribution of these risk factors to stunting has not been examined across countries. We estimated the number of stunting cases among children aged 24–35 mo (i.e., at the end of the 1,000 days’ period of vulnerability) that are attributable to 18 risk factors in 137 developing countries.

Methods and Findings – We classified risk factors into five clusters: maternal nutrition and infection, teenage motherhood and short birth intervals, fetal growth restriction (FGR) and preterm birth, child nutrition and infection, and environmental factors. We combined published estimates and individual-level data from population-based surveys to derive risk factor prevalence in each country in 2010 and identified the most recent meta-analysis or conducted de novo reviews to derive effect sizes. We estimated the prevalence of stunting and the number of stunting cases that were attributable to each risk factor and cluster of risk factors by country and region.

The leading risk worldwide was FGR, defined as being term and small for gestational age, and 10.8 million cases (95% CI 9.1 million–12.6 million) of stunting (out of 44.1 million) were attributable to it, followed by unimproved sanitation, with 7.2 million (95% CI 6.3 million–8.2 million), and diarrhea with 5.8 million (95% CI 2.4 million–9.2 million). FGR and preterm birth was the leading risk factor cluster in all regions. Environmental risks had the second largest estimated impact on stunting globally and in the South Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and East Asia and Pacific regions, whereas child nutrition and infection was the second leading cluster of risk factors in other regions.

Although extensive, our analysis is limited to risk factors for which effect sizes and country-level exposure data were available. The global nature of the study required approximations (e.g., using exposures estimated among women of reproductive age as a proxy for maternal exposures, or estimating the impact of risk factors on stunting through a mediator rather than directly on stunting). Finally, as is standard in global risk factor analyses, we used the effect size of risk factors on stunting from meta-analyses of epidemiological studies and assumed that proportional effects were fairly similar across countries.

Conclusions – FGR and unimproved sanitation are the leading risk factors for stunting in developing countries. Reducing the burden of stunting requires a paradigm shift from interventions focusing solely on children and infants to those that reach mothers and families and improve their living environment and nutrition.

Linking WASH to other development sectors – Thematic discussion: 24th October – 12th November 2016

The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Community of Practice on Sanitation and Hygiene in Developing Countries and the Centre of Excellence in Water and Sanitation at Mzuzu University (Malawi) are holding a joint 3-week thematic discussion on linking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) to other development sectors. The LinkedIn hosted CoP has over 6,200 members each working in WASH and other related sectors; this thematic discussion will be an opportunity to bring together sector practitioners and researchers to share knowledge, learn from each other, identify best practice and explore how WASH and other development sectors can collaborate in this SDG era.

The thematic discussion will take place on the CoP; with a coordinator moderating the discussions. The discussion will be split into three inter-linked sub-themes and conversation leaders will frame and prompt debates each week on:

  • 24 – 30 October – Theme 1: WASH and Nutrition – At a grassroots level, WASH and nutrition are not often combined, what are some examples of successful merging of these themes? What about the health impact and the perceptions and views of communities? If you had one area of WASH and nutrition which makes the biggest impact to focus on, what would it be?

2016-10_thematic_discussions-week1_eflyer

  • 31 October – 6 November – Theme 2: WASH and Disability – What are the barriers to accessing WASH people with disabilities in developing countries? Is standard CLTS inclusive?  How can schools in developing countries be more accessible?  What are some examples of successful merging of these two themes?

2016-10_thematic_discussions-week2_eflyer

  • 7 – 12 November – Theme 3: Climate Change and WASH –What are some of the local strategies in place to strengthen climate change resiliency and WASH objectives? If an ODF community build a pit latrine by cutting down old growth trees, have we made a positive or negative impact at a community level? Are there more innovative ways looking at not only the environment and human dimensions of these problems? What are some examples of successful merging of these two themes by field practitioners?

2016-10_thematic_discussions-week3_eflyerJoin us for the discussion with some of the following thematic experts:

  • Megan Wilson-Jones, Policy Analyst: Health & Hygiene, WaterAid for WASH and Nutrition discussion
  • Adam Biran and Sian White, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • Mavuto Tembo, Mzuzu University, Malawi

Weekly summaries of discussions will be posted on CoP as well as a synthesis report of overarching findings at the end.

To participate in the discussion, please join here:

WSSCC Community of Practice: www.linkedin.com/grp/home?gid=1238187

We look forward to some constructive and in-depth discussions!

Antibiotic waste is polluting India and China’s rivers; big pharma must act

Antibiotic waste is polluting India and China’s rivers; big pharma must act. The Guardian, October 25, 2016.

Pollution from drugs factories, many in India and China, is causing the spread of anti-microbial resistance. Pharma companies are under pressure to act 

antibiotic

A strain of the E coli bacteria. Pollution from pharmaceutical production is a factor in the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Illustration: Janice Carr/AP

Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are a fundamental threat to global health, UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon recently told a general assembly meeting. Failure to address the problem, he said, would make it “difficult if not impossible” to provide universal healthcare, “and it will put the sustainable development goals in jeopardy”.

For pharmaceutical companies the attention on antimicrobial resistance has also brought a focus on one of its key drivers: the unabated environmental pollution of drug factories in developing countries.

In India and China, where a large proportion of antibiotics are produced, the poorly regulated discharge of untreated wastewater into soils and rivers is causing the spread of antibiotic ingredients which cause bacteria to develop immunity to antibiotics, creating superbugs.

A study of wastewater factories in China found that antibiotic-resistant bacteria were not only escaping purification but also breeding. For every bacterium that entered one waste treatment plant, four or five antibiotic-resistant bacteria were released into the water system, tainting water, livestock and communities.

Read the complete article.

UNC Water Institute WASH Research Policy Digests

These useful UNC research digests discuss a key article and include literature reviews on the selected topic:

Issue #1, July 2015: Sanitation Subsidies
Our first Digest deals with the difficult issue of when and how to use subsidies for on-site sanitation.

Issue #2, October 2015: WaSH in Healthcare Facilities
Issue two of the WasH Policy Research Digest digs in to the critical issue of WaSH in health care facilities, including a detailed review of WHO and UNICEF’s 2015 report on the topic and a synthesis of literature and solutions to address its impact on infection, mortality, maternal and neonatal health.

Issue #3, March 2016: Handpump Functionality Monitoring
The third issue of the WaSH Policy Research Digest focuses on handpump functionality monitoring. This issue of the Digest explores recent literature on this topic, focusing on policy implications, recommendations, and a call for standardized functionality measurements.

Issue #4, August 2016: Sanitation and Nutrition
Our fourth digest addresses sanitation and nutrition. This issue explores recent literature and the emerging evidence base on the connection between sanitation, nutritional outcomes, and child stunting.

USAID – Celebrate Global Handwashing Day 2016!

USAID – Celebrate Global Handwashing Day 2016!

On Global Handwashing Day, we join partners around the world to celebrate the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. Handwashing is an important part of the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID’s) efforts to end preventable child and maternal deaths. ghd2016

Although many people around the world clean their hands with water, the use of soap is also necessary to prevent disease more effectively.

  • Millions of children under the age of 5 years die from diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. Handwashing with soap could prevent about 1 out of every 3 episodes of diarrheal illnesses and almost 1 out of 6 episodes of respiratory infections like pneumonia.
  • Handwashing with soap is also a key component of clean and safe birthing practices, which could save up to 40 percent of the 2.8 million infants that die during their first month of life.

USAID’s life-saving water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programs and other development activities promote adoption of handwashing and other hygiene practices as an important element of improved health and nutrition programs.

Learn more

Photo credit: USAID