Sanitation. As in “Medicine saves lives”. (but not as you expect)

The value of sanitation at reducing child mortality in many low income countries has been substantially underestimated according to recent research.

A study by Prof Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Dr Annette Prüss-Ustün from The World Health Organization concludes that vital health benefits of access to sanitation facilities such as latrines will only be seen once a certain level of coverage across a community is achieved.

Prof Hunter said: “The provision of sanitation is undoubtedly one of the most important public health advances of recent times, and has become a key objective in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. However recent trials of sanitation interventions have failed to demonstrate a significant reduction in rates of childhood diarrhoea, one of the biggest killers of children under two years old”.

The study suggests that the health benefits from better sanitation differ from other similar public health interventions such as improved drinking water in that the benefit is for the community not the individual user. Prof Hunter warns that other studies into the impact of sanitation that focus only on individuals’ use of improved facilities rather than the wider community coverage, are likely to severely underestimate the impact of better sanitation.

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“Improved sanitation appears to be one of the most effective way to reducing childhood mortality from conditions like diarrhoea”, said Prof Hunter, “but only if high levels of community coverage are achieved. (1)

Is this medicine?

No. It is common logic.

Is it high end technological progress?

No. It is something even “primitive” people know when living in small tribes.

We fancy looking ourselves as progressed and yet all of our civilization is based on overestimated tools which offer nothing more than the obvious. And sometimes they even hide it from clear view. We all believe that medicine saves lives through complicated high-end innovations. But it is the simple things which make the difference. Things so simple as “clean up this shit”…

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