Saving children's lives through clean water in Haiti

A new water purification product developed by Procter & Gamble is being launched in Haiti, where diarrhea is a major killer of children under five, by an initiative funded by the Global Development Alliance of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and supported by Johns Hopkins University...

Nov 18th, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC, Nov. 17, 2004 (PRNewswire) -- A new water purification product developed by Procter & Gamble (P&G) is being launched in Haiti, where diarrhea is a major killer of children under five, by an initiative funded by the Global Development Alliance of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The PUR Purifier of Water, was launched by the Safe Drinking Water Alliance, a public-private partnership created to increase access to safe drinking water by low-income people which is comprised of P&G and three nonprofit organizations - Population Services International (PSI), the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs (CCP) and CARE. The Alliance is also implementing safe drinking water projects in Pakistan and Ethiopia.

Point-of-use water treatment approaches like PUR Purifier of Water have shown reductions of 30-50% in diarrhea disease, with even higher reductions during water-borne epidemics. PSI will use social marketing techniques to sell the product at a price affordable to needy Haitians through commercial and nonprofit channels while CCP will promote home water treatment and diarrhea prevention, such as hand washing with soap, through a communication campaign.

In Haiti, diarrhea is the leading cause of death among children ages 1-11 months and the second leading cause of death among children ages 12-59 months. Diarrhea is endemic in Haiti and occurs year-round, although it tends to peak during the summer months. Diarrhea is a more significant cause of death among rural children under five, responsible for 41% of all deaths in rural areas compared to 32% in urban areas.

Water access and quality in Haiti have suffered considerably this year with civil unrest, severe flooding in May and heavy damage from hurricanes in September and October.

Simple, low-cost interventions at the household and community level are capable of dramatically improving the microbial quality of household stored water and reducing risks of diarrhea disease and death, according to the World Health Organization. Because of the potential public health benefits, more than 20 organizations, including each of the members of the Alliance, have joined forces to create the International Network to Promote Household Water Treatment and Safe Storage. This network provided the opportunity for the connection that led to this unique Alliance.

U.S. Agency for International Development's Global Development Alliance (GDA) is USAID's commitment to change the way USAID implements its assistance. GDA mobilizes the ideas, efforts and resources of governments, businesses and civil society by forging public-private alliances that stimulate economic growth, develop businesses and workforces, address health and environmental issues and expand access to education and technology. The GDA approach responds to the fact that the majority of resources that flow from the developed to the developing world is from the private sector, and it extends USAID's reach and effectiveness in meeting development objectives by combining its strengths with the resources and capabilities of other prominent actors. Alliances incorporate a breadth of USAID and partner resources to arrive at solutions only available through pooled efforts.

Population Services International (www.psi.org) is a nonprofit organization that combines commercial tools with a social mission of achieving measurable health impact. Since 1972, PSI has used social marketing to improve health and save lives. Through health programs in more than 70 countries on five continents, PSI distributes affordable, accessible and attractive health products and services, and motivates other types of healthy behavior, in HIV/AIDS, family planning, malaria, safe water and nutrition. In 2003, PSI's safe water system prevented the deaths of an estimated 22,000 children.

The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Communication Programs (www.jhuccp.org) is a pioneer in the field of strategic, research-based communication for behavior change and health promotion that has helped transform the theory and practice of public health. CCP collaborates and partners with key government ministries, NGOs, and the commercial sector to design and implement national and state-level health communication strategies. The Center has 440 field staff in 30 countries and has developed and managed more than 820 country-based projects and programs in environmental health, including safe water; child and adolescent health; HIV/AIDS and reproductive health; safe motherhood; and good governance, involving more than 530 local organizations in 81 countries. CCP provides the technical expertise in strategic design, communication research and behavior change, and program management.

Procter & Gamble (www.pghsi.com) is one of the largest consumer products companies in the world. The company has nearly 98,000 employees working in almost 80 countries worldwide. Two billion times a day, P&G brands touch the lives of people around the world. P&G provides technical, marketing, and research and development capabilities in relation to its new in-home water purification technology. The PUR Purifier of Water technology was developed in cooperation with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and has been shown to reduce significantly diarrhea illness in the developing world.

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