Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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Clean water, efficient cookstoves

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Unsafe drinking water is a major cause of mortality around the world. An estimated 1.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water, more than a third of whom rely primarily on open wells and untreated surface water that can be contaminated with human and animal feces. Cooking indoors on traditional open-fire stoves with solid biomass fuels such as wood and charcoal has been linked with pneumonia, low birthweight, and impaired development in children.

A large-scale program to deliver water filters and portable biomass-burning cookstoves to Rwandan homes reduced the prevalence of reported diarrhea and acute respiratory infection in children under 5 years old by 29 percent and 25 percent, respectively, according to a Rollins study.

“After neonatal disorders, pneumonia and diarrheal disease are the two leading killers of children under 5 years of age in Rwanda and in much of sub-Saharan Africa,” says Dr. Thomas Clasen, Rose Salamone Gangarosa Chair in Sanitation and Water, who led the study. “The results of this trial provide strong evidence that effective interventions can be successfully delivered to and embraced by a population at risk, even in remote rural settings.”

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