[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 15-Nov-2010
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Contact: Katie Hickling
press@plos.org
44-122-344-2815
Public Library of Science

Health professionals need to take action on water and sanitation issues

The active involvement of health professionals in hygiene, sanitation, and water supply is absolutely crucial to accelerating and consolidating global health progress, says a new series of papers in PLoS Medicine by a leading group of public health academics and water advocates.

Professor Sandy Cairncross from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and colleagues show how water and sanitation issues are woefully neglected across the world and suggest that action could prevent more than 2 million children dying each year.

The authors say that in 2010, nearly 20% of the world's population still defecates in the open and 2.6 billion people do not have access to even a basic toilet. Unsafe sanitation and drinking water, as well as poor hygiene, account for at least 7% of the total global disease burden, and nearly 20% of all child deaths in the world. Most of these diseases, including diarrhoea, can easily be prevented with cheap and proven interventions such as pit latrines and hand-washing with soap, say the authors. Despite this, progress has been "painfully slow" in many developing countries. The series urges members of the health community—including international donors, UN agencies, developing country governments, and health care professionals—to take immediate action to reduce this "devastating disease burden."

Four papers form the PLoS Medicine series. In the first article, Jamie Bartram from the University of North Carolina, USA, and Sandy Cairncross argue that the massive burden of ill health associated with poor hygiene, sanitation, and water supply demands more attention from health professionals and policymakers. In the second article, Paul Hunter (University of East Anglia, United Kingdom) and colleagues focus on water supply and argue that much more effort is needed to improve access to safe and sustainable water supplies. David Trouba (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council, Geneva, Switzerland) and colleagues discuss the importance of improved sanitation to health and the role that the health sector can play in its advocacy in the third article. And in the final article, Sandy Cairncross and colleagues outline what needs to be done to make significant progress in providing more and better hygiene, sanitation, and water for all.

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The PLoS Medicine series on Water and Sanitation will be made available via the following link:

http://www.ploscollections.org/watersanitation

Notes to editors

- Journalists are invited to attend the launch from 17:30-18:15 (followed by a reception) on November 16, 2010 at the John Snow Lecture Theatre, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1e 7HT. Please RSVP to sarah.baker@lshtm.ac.uk.

Hygiene, Sanitation, and Water: Forgotten Foundations of Health by Sandy Cairncross & Jamie Bartram (published Nov 9th 2010)

Funding: While writing this article, JB was a staff member of WHO, and SC was supported by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and by the Department for International Development (DFID). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: SC leads a UK Department for International Development-funded research programme consortium for research in sanitation and hygiene.

Citation: Bartram J, Cairncross S (2010) Hygiene, Sanitation, and Water: Forgotten Foundations of Health. PLoS Med 7(11): e1000367. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000367

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER: http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000367


Water Supply and Health by Paul Hunter & colleagues (published Nov 9th 2010)

Funding: There were no external sources of funding. This paper was written whilst the authors were fully funded by their primary employers, which had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: PRH is chair of the board of directors of the Institute of Public Health and Water Research, Texas A & M University; chairs the science advisory council for Suez Environment; and has done consultancy work for Danone bevarages. Neither of the other two authors have any competing interests to declare.

Citation: Hunter PR, MacDonald AM, Carter RC (2010) Water Supply and Health. PLoS Med 7(11): e1000361. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000361

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000361


Sanitation and Health By David Trouba &colleagues

Funding: No funding sources were used to write this article.

Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Citation: Mara D, Lane J, Scott B, Trouba D (2010) Sanitation and Health. PLoS Med 7(11): e1000363.doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000363

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000363

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: www.plos.org/press/plme-07-11-trouba.pdf


Hygiene, Sanitation, and Water: What Needs to Be Done? By Sandy Cairncross & colleagues

Funding: The authors wrote this article while employed by London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (Higher Education Funding Council for England funding), World Health Organization, WaterAid, and UNICEF respectively. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing Interests: SC leads a research programme funded by DFID.

Citation: Cairncross S, Bartram J, Cumming O, Brocklehurst C (2010) Hygiene, Sanitation, and Water: What Needs to Be Done? PLoS Med 7(11): e1000365. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000365

IN YOUR COVERAGE PLEASE USE THIS URL TO PROVIDE ACCESS TO THE FREELY AVAILABLE PAPER:

http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pmed.1000365

PRESS-ONLY PREVIEW OF THE ARTICLE: www.plos.org/press/plme-07-11-cairncross.pdf

CONTACT:

Sandy Cairncross

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Keppel Street
London, WC1E 7HT
United Kingdom
020 7927 2211
020 7636 7843 (fax)
sandy.cairncross@lshtm.ac.uk



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