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    Posted July 30, 2009 by
    Washington, District of Columbia

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    Water is Medicine -- Why Water and Sanitation Matter to Global Public Health


    Evidence points to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) as perhaps the world’s largest cause of disease and as critical to sustainable progress across a broad spectrum of development outcomes. More than 25 diseases are caused by inadequate water and sanitation, creating nearly 10% of the global public health burden, killing more than 2 million people a year (including more children than AIDS, TB and malaria combined) and leading to 50% of the world’s malnutrition. Diarrhea (a consequence of many of these 25+ diseases) sickens over 4 billion people each year and kills 1.5 million of them, 90% of whom are children under five[1].

    The U.S. public is largely unaware of the extent and severity of the problem because for the most part few Americans see the situation first hand. We easily flush away potential pathogens with our toilet handle and have clean safe drinking water at the turn of the tap. This is a global problem that Americans can do something about now. We have the technology and knowledge to solve this now. The briefing described these solutions including the need for increased political will and financing.

    [1]UNICEF and WHO, various publications; Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

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