Huge progress has been made in many critical areas involving children's health. Yet there is still important work to be done, and most of it doesn't involve expensive new drugs or surgical procedures. Instead, it's about the basics that most of us take for granted. We have identified 5 issues that desperately need the world's attention for the sake of children and their families, and suggest some ways that you and your family can help.
In most parts of the world, we take clean running water for granted. So it's shocking to learn that:
UNICEF reports that more than 5,000 children under age 5 die each day because of diarrheal diseases, often contracted through contaminated drinking water or no access to sanitation facilities, like bathrooms with flushable toilets.
Again, the impact of this is felt keenly by children. In addition to water-related mortality, malnutrition attributed to dirty water and poor sanitation and hygiene kills another 2,350 children younger than 5 each day.
In developing countries, the task of collecting water for the household usually falls to women and children (especially girls). Often, this means hours-long walks from the home to collect the water, and may happen several times a day. This burden means the adults are not working at a paying job and the kids are not in school. And, the water collected — often from streams and ponds rather than wells — is likely dirty.
This cycle of disease, joblessness, and missed school makes the water crisis a major part of global poverty. Yet it could be one of the easiest factors to fix. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that it would cost $11.3 billion per year for global clean water and sanitation — in comparison, Americans spend about $450 billion each year to celebrate Christmas. Costs to build a new well start at less than $3,000. A well not only provides clean, safe water nearby, which allows women to work and girls to attend school, it also makes farming possible. Biosand water filtration systems for individual families cost less than $100.
Want to get involved? Any of these organizations would be glad for the help:
Find out how to help kids worldwide in other important ways:
Reviewed by: Steven Dowshen, MD
Date reviewed: December 2013
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