to save people's lives in the developing world is the mission of a company
based in Lausanne, Switzerland. The group designs and manufactures devices that
prevent diseases like cholera, guinea worm and malaria. One such item is the
LifeStraw, a simple device that filters out germs to the point where one can
drink contaminated water straight from the source and not get sick.
The company's name
is Vestergaard-Frandsen and its chief executive officer is Mikkel Vestergaard-Frandsen. In this third of a five-part series, the Company CEO says
the LifeStraw is designed for people living in poverty who have a high death
rate from water-borne diseases.
The LifeStraw comes
in two forms. One is for personal use and the other for the household. The
personal LifeStraw is portable and looks very much like an ordinary straw. It
hangs around the neck, and Mikkel Vestergaard-Frandsen says you can drink water
from any source without getting sick, "It's really beautiful in its simplicity.
It takes 99.999 percent of all bacteria, and it functions, really, as a water
treatment plant in a straw."
The CEO says the household version of the
straw is for a family of up to six people and lasts more than three years. It's
simple to use. It hangs from a wall, you pour dirty water into the top and it
filters down through a hollow fiber and comes out clean. The process is quick,
and you can drink the water right away; there's no need to store the water for
a long period.
Vestergaard Frandsen says both the personal
and the family LifeStraw are very effective against diarrheal diseases. "This is a disease that this year alone will
cost the lives of 1.8 million children across Africa. It is the deadliest
disease among children under five in sub-Saharan Africa today, and one that is
utterly preventable and where [the] LifeStraw family will play a huge role," he
The LifeStraw passes the standards
established by the U-S Environmental Protection Agency for reducing bacteria,
viruses and parasites in water.
Vestergaard-Frandsen says the personal
LifeStraw has been distributed in several sub-Saharan African countries for
about two years now, and efforts to distribute the family version are just
getting underway. He says the best way to get one is through a charitable
organization. "Charities are the organizations – and the NGOs and the
faith-based organizations – [that] take the product out there to the rural
households where the poorest people live, where the death rates are the highest
and where we can have the biggest health impact."
If you'd like more information on the
LifeStraw and other Vestergaard Frandsen products that prevent disease, go to
their website at www.vestergaard-frandsen.com.
Vestergaard is spelled v-e-s-t-e-r-g-a-a-r-d. And Frandsen is spelled
f-r-a-n-d-s-e-n. Once again, the website address is www.vestergaard-frandsen.com.