“Countries pledge billions of dollars to fund child vaccinations,” rings out the headline, the ringing only drowned out by those of the tills in the minds of pharmaceutical manufacturers as they see their coffers rapidly filling with a cool four billion dollars.
Bill Gates, as head of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (Gavi), yesterday managed to get various governments across the world to pledge this amount to fund his programme to distribute vaccines across poorer countries, the process of developing which “is cool stuff,” he says. In fact, he adds “it’s as good as writing computer code”.
But we should beware of geeks bearing gifts. Because if our political leaders were really serious about wanting to improve the health of the developing nations, they would be spending those billions on cleaning up their water supplies. Polluted water is where most of the world’s disease comes from today.
It wasn’t always the case.
Romans had cleaner water
Apparently, the Romans had better access to clean water than half the people alive today. In those days, wells were respected as the means to the lifeline that they were. Villagers would hold well dressing ceremonies to celebrate the maidens of the well, and would give offerings in the belief that this would help maintain the purity of the supply.
Fast forward fifteen hundred years and now, according to the charity Water.org, every five seconds, somewhere in the world, a child dies from a water-borne disease, just like the ones the pharmaceutical companies are offering to cure. For instance, diarrhea is one of the biggest killers of children, which they contract from poisonous water.
More than 60 per cent of our bodies are comprised of water, and this is why a good clean water supply is so essential to our health. It is so vital, that we can go, if we have to, weeks without food; but without water, we’d be dead within a few days. You could say that drinking clean water is the ultimate natural health therapy.
Much could be achieved worldwide with four billion dollars. Lack of sanitation is the world’s biggest cause of infection with 2.5 billion people lacking access to improved sanitation, including 1.2 billion people that have no facilities at all.
At any given time, half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from diseases associated with lack of access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
Most of the illness in the world today is caused by fecal matter in an area’s water system. More than 80% of sewage in developing countries is discharged untreated, polluting rivers, lakes and coastal areas.
Problem “too big for charity”
Water.org says that the water and sanitation problem in the developing world is far too big for charity alone. So they’re driving the water sector for new solutions, new financing models, greater transparency, and real partnerships to create lasting change.
Another charity, WaterAid, says that for just US $2.00 a month, a child’s life could be transformed by clean drinking water. So with the US$4 billion that world governments are giving Bill Gates for his international vaccine programme, we could save the lives of two billion children. That’s almost as many children as there are in the world.
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