Making the World A Better Place: Sanitation
Several years ago I read a book by economist Bjorn Lomborg called “How to Spend $50 Billion to Make the World a Better Place”. The book describes the conclusions of 38 world-class economists who met to come up with the so-called Copenhagen Consensus. They answered the question: if you had 50 billion U.S. dollars how should it be spent to make the world a better place? These economists struggled to find the best return on this investment. They ranked many different proposals.
The best use of that money was for the control of communicable diseases such as HIV and malaria. In the top ten proposals were various approaches to improve sanitation and provide clean water. Among the worst proposals, the most wasteful, were the use of the funds to address “climate change”, previously known as global warming.
I thought of the extraordinary suffering caused by lack of sanitation when I read a recent article in the British Medical Journal called “More temples than toilets?”. India takes the lead when in comes to open defecation: India has 60% of those in the world who defecate in the open, 626 million people.
Open defecation leads to contamination of groundwater and agricultural produce and contributes to multiple parasitic illnesses. Worldwide, each year 2.2 million people die of diarrhea, 90% are children.These deaths are largely preventable.
In 2010, of 423 cities surveyed in India, none received a “healthy and clean” designation. But poverty is not the only reason for this sickening lack of adequate sanitation.
Watch this informative video, if you dare, to learn more.
And be thankful for our sanitation!
Daniel Weiss MD CDE FACP PNS CPI