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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