News

    New Product Cleans Dirty Water In Minutes

    The World Health Organization says more than 3.4 million people die every year from poor water and sanitary conditions. More than 250 million people suffer from diseases caused by dirty water every year, and 6,000 children die every day from diseases caused by contaminated water. No country in the Western Hemisphere suffers more from problems caused by contaminated water than Haiti, the poorest country in the hemisphere. But that could change soon, with the introduction of a new product that cleans contaminated water in just minutes.

    The waiting room at the Carrefour maternity hospital is always crowded. It is a good place to find an audience receptive to a song extolling the benefits of clean drinking water.

    The woman leading the sing-along at the Carrefour hospital is Amelia Shaw, a specialist on mother and child health, who also works as a journalist for international news agencies in Haiti. She is introducing a new product called PuR, or purifier of water, to those who have come to the hospital seeking help. Many of those at the hospital are bringing small children suffering from diarrhea and Amelia Shaw says the new product could save their lives.

    "It is a powder that essentially purifies water," said Amelia Shaw. "It will take the dirtiest water you have ever seen and after about 25 minutes make it potable [drinkable]. It will make it potable and absolutely clear. It kills all pesticides, all microbes, everything organic from viruses to bacteria to worms. It eliminates all poisons, heavy metals, and other dangerous contaminants in water."

    Supporters of such point-of-use water treatments, as they are known, have shown reductions of 30 to 50 percent in diarrheal disease, with even higher reductions during water-borne epidemics.

    Diarrhea is the leading cause of death among Haitian children less than one-year old, and the second leading killer among children between the ages of one to five. A recent study found that one out of every 13 Haitian children die before they reach their first birthday and one out of 24 that survive the first year die before the age of five.

    Population Services International which markets health care products in developing countries around the world on a non-profit basis, has just introduced PuR to Haiti. The product which was developed by the U.S.-based company, Proctor and Gamble has been introduced with positive results in other countries like Guatemala, The Philippines and Bangladesh, where tests show PuR substantially reduced arsenic levels in tube-well water, a major health problem for Bangladeshi's. The widespread introduction of PuR is also expected to have a positive impact on expanding oral rehydration therapy, which is used to combat diarrheal disease.

    The PuR powder which comes in a small sachet, or packet, and which is sold for about eight U.S. cents, got its first test in Haiti last September when floods killed several thousand people in the Haitian city of Gonaives. Amelia Shaw says a decision was made to distribute PuR in Gonaives, even though the product was not designed for emergency use.

    "This is a product that is not necessarily designed for a relief situation because you have to be able to effectively show people how to use it," she said. "So it was a big challenge in Gonaives. People in Gonaives had water everywhere. It was dirty water and it was really posing a big problem. A product like PuR, if people know what it is, and they know how to use it, can save thousands of lives. I know we did a lot of good. We had teams on the ground and we were able to work with other relief organizations in the area."

    Amelia Shaw says there are four steps to preparing PuR. The powder must be stirred for five minutes until waste material in the water clumps together or coagulates. Then the clumped material must be allowed to sink to the bottom of a bucket or container. Then, the water must be filtered into another container, and then, allowed to sit for 15 minutes. If these steps are not followed correctly PuR will not work, so Amelia Shaw and her team constantly visit hospitals and clinics, where through songs and skits they show people how to use PuR, a product which she says could save many lives in coming years.

    Dr. Dauphin Jean-Philippe of the Carrefour maternity hospital says he is amazed that a very simple product could have such a potential positive impact.

    The Haitian doctor says he expects PuR to have a dramatic impact on people's lives because it will change the way water is used in Haiti, where only 10 percent of the population has access to clean drinking water in their homes.

    Nearly two thirds of Haitians get their water either from public water fountains, which are difficult to keep clean, or from non-protected sources such as rivers and streams that are heavily polluted. Getting clean drinking water from a small package of powder, which sells for pennies, could save millions of lives now lost to contaminated water.

    Photos - courtesy of PSI

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora