4086.0 Public Health and Global Water Issues: Policies for Collective Action

Tuesday, November 10, 2009: 10:30 AM
The UNMDGs on water and sanitation will probably not be reached and the situation will worsen in many countries. Funding needed for water supply systems and sanitation is very high, the political will is lacking and in most cost-benefit analyses, water and sanitation project proposals do not contain savings in health, nor educational and economic development potential. Mortality from water-borne diseases can be drastically reduced by providing small scale, well designed, sustainable water supply systems in rural areas, especially those in Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Many projects have failed over the years, due to neglect of/or caused by fiscal, social, technical, legal, governance and political realities. Thousands of small scale NGO's in donor countries are providing funds, know-how, volunteers, training and goodwill, yet often without good, holistic approaches to solutions. Local synergy between these NGO's can cut down on costs, can built multi-disciplinary assessments of projects, can provide economics of scale and overall can create stronger performances in the operational theatres of Africa, Asia and America, including some reservations on the American mainland. The Philadelphia Global Water Initiative has built expertise in working across disciplines and is now evaluating individual projects through a cross-disciplinary perspective. It has also brought stronger fundraising skills to the member groups and PGWI has become a generator of advocacy, education and even career counseling. PGWI members are bringing water and sanitation classes to engineering, environmental science, medical and nursing schools. The session will highlight the ebbing of the influence of the sanitary engineer in the field of Public Health after WWII, the need for a revival of the Sanitary Movement on a global scale and with modern technology. Especially in the rural areas, where the attention of the powerful and the large governmental institutions are lacking, the myriad of volunteer-based NGOs can contribute substantially towards reaching developmental goals, especially if these NGOs can brought into a unifying network of cooperation. The new world of Public Global Health will be shaped by attention to these grassroots movements. Global Public Health can become a vast expression of "soft power" in the foreign affairs of our nation and claim an important role.
Session Objectives: Describe lack of progress in UNMDG #7 on water supply and sanitation. Identify the possible roles of grassroots movements, professional organizations and their needs for better coordination. Demonstrate how locally structured networks like the Philadelphia Global Water Initiative, a multi-disciplinary entity of groups and individuals, can increased higher efficiency , and stimulate greater synergy of diverse outcome variables. Demonstrate the schism between water work engineering, sanitation and the public health agenda and identifies the growing awareness about global health issues as a possible revival of the hygiene movement within the tent of Public Health.
Walter Tsou, MD, MPH

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Organized by: APHA-Special Sessions
Endorsed by: Environment, International Health

CE Credits: Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)

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