Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Cholera's Role in the Water Crisis

The water crisis is detrimental for a multitude of reasons, not least of which is the spread of disease. While the most glaring water-related problem facing underdeveloped nations is the availability of clean drinking water, sanitation and the rapid spread of diseases such as cholera is just as significant. This concern is catapulted to the forefront of discussions in lieu of a natural disaster or event such as the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti just last year. Since then, Haiti has been struck with a Cholera outbreak that has claimed over 5,000 lives. The causes for this outbreak are variable, but the main reason seems to be the lack of sanitation in the country and the failure of U.N. representatives in controlling fecal matter contamination. Humanitarian groups say they are promoting hygiene and educating the capital’s populace about cholera, which can spread easily through contaminated water and food. Cholera is a bacterial infection of the small intestine, and it is one of the most prevalent diseases throughout the world. The ease with which the bacterium, Vibrio cholerae, remains viable in contaminated water, increases its virulence drastically and directly correlates an outbreak of the disease with poor water sanitation conditions. 

While Haiti as been cited as an example here, Cholera poses a constant threat to any under-developed region in any part of the world. In our modern world, with the technology and resources available to us, the seemingly constant loss of so many human lives is inexcusable. It necessitates a swift course of action, and the World Health Organization continues to develop strategies to prevent Cholera outbreaks. According to its website, WHO states that "prevention and preparedness of cholera require a coordinated multidisciplinary approach." While WHO continues to focus on recognizing risk factors for prevention of the disease, it is the role of organizations such as Pure Water Access Project to continue to research effective means of filtering water in order to eliminate cholera and other water-borne diseases. T

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