EVERY PUBLIC HEALTH INTERVENTION IS AFFECTED BY WHETHER THERE IS ENOUGH CLEAN WATER. WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO WALK SEVERAL HOURS EVERY DAY TO CARRY WATER HOME HAVE LITTLE TIME FOR WORK OR EDUCATION. The best vaccination program in the world is of little use to children who will die anyway of diseases virtually unheard of in nations with water pipes and flush toilets. The Rollins School of Public Health knows it can’t change such a global problem on its own, but its Center for Global Safe Water, established in partnership with CARE USA, the CDC, Population Services International, and others, is already making a difference.
     As part of this initiative, faculty and students in public health have helped evaluate a CDC/CARE program in which poor Kenyan women buy a purifying chlorine solution wholesale and sell it retail to their neighbors. The women, sometimes called the AVON ladies of Kenya, become advocates for use of the inexpensive but effective water purification system. And they show their community how to safely store treated water in containers that can’t be reinfected by contact with dirty hands. Produced locally, this system is a source of badly needed income and cuts in half the number of cases of diarrhea in children under 5, those least likely to survive serious bouts of the disease. Inspired by this work, the Atlanta Rotary is partnering with the school of public health to build new wells and provide support for water treatment and storage in Kenya.
     The school is also taking on issues of sanitation, with faculty bold enough to define their life’s work as “building better latrines,” a necessary corollary to initiatives in safe water. Because safe water and adequate sanitation go hand in hand, Eugene Gangarosa, professor emeritus, and his wife Rose Salamone Gangarosa, an equally committed public health advocate, have funded two complementary chairs, one in safe water and one in environmental health, to strengthen programs in these areas and act on their belief that access to clean water is a basic human right.

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Facing biologic threats
Students in courses at the mock biosafety level 3 and 4 labs on the Emory Briarcliff campus learn the strict protocols for working with organisms that cause diseases like smallpox, SARS, and Ebola. The pathogens in this case may be hypothetical, but the setting itself is otherwise authentic. From 7 in the morning to 7 at night, students learn how to don and doff suits, handle “sharps” (dissecting tools), deal with accidents, and decontaminate themselves. With more and more biosafety labs springing up not just locally but in the region and throughout the country, the need for such training is crucial. “This program may be the first of its kind in the country and involves collaborations with experts at the CDC, Emory, and elsewhere,” says Ruth Berkelman, who directs the School of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Preparedness and Research (CPHPR), which developed the curriculum. The program was initiated by the NIH-sponsored Southern Regional Center for Excellence for Emerging Infections and Biodefense, a consortium of six southeastern universities. The CPHPR is also working with the Southeastern Center for Emerging Biologic Threats to examine and maximize the effectiveness of response plans of public health agencies in eight southeastern states for dealing with a potential outbreak of pandemic flu.


Tap the potential of prevention:
> GET IN ON THE FIRST FLOOR. Here’s the price of success: The Rollins School of Public Health has outgrown its home, spilling over to seven other campus sites. Feasibility studies have given the green light for a new building located behind the school’s current facility. Plans have yet to be drawn, but that doesn’t worry Dean James Curran. “We have a compelling story,” he says, “and we deliver what we promise. We need to move in by 2009.”
> TURN SMALL SUMS INTO BIG HEALTH GAINS. Public health practitioners do that every day. Got $25? That’s the cost of providing HIV testing and counseling to a couple in Zambia. Got $50? That’s the cost of tests to evaluate toxicity of dirt in a playground.
> INVEST IN THE FUTURE. Students who follow the “secular calling” of public health often graduate with high debt. Named scholarships can be endowed for $100,000 to enable students to follow their calling to help save lives, millions at a time.
> SUBSTITUTE A BLOOD TEST FOR A COLONOSCOPY. Emory public health researchers believe that biomarkers for colon cancer can be detected in blood samples. A gift of $150,000 would fund equipment and
personnel to accelerate their research and help make screening for colon cancer as simple as getting your cholesterol checked.
Send your gift today by calling 404-727-3518, or give online.
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