10 Ways We Can Save The Earth, All Under $10
Health: 10 Ways We Can Save The Earth – All Under $10
When it comes to public health, lives are often saved, or dramatically improved, by things that cost the least. Simple undertakings—such as washing hands, using a seatbelt or donning a bike helmet—carry little cost for the individual person. But together such interventions can make a huge difference in global health & wealth.
Here are 10 of the least expensive ways to save millions of lives around the world.
Quit Smoking Cigarettes.
Cost: $0 It costs nothing to quit
Tobacco is the second major cause of death in the world—killing one in 10 adults worldwide, or about 5 million people each year. The 2004 U.S. Surgeon General's Report concluded that cigarette smoking causes diseases in nearly every organ of the body. "If you think about smoking cessation, there are few interventions that can save so many lives and so cheaply," says editor of the 2004 report. The good news is that it's never too late to stop. Within hours after a smoker inhales that last cigarette, his or her health begins to improve.
Increase Vitamin A Supplements.
Cost: $0.04 per dose
In 1985, ophthalmologist and epidemiologist Mr. Al Somer discovered that a capsule of high-potency Vitamin A given to children in Indonesia twice a year reduced the number of child deaths by 34%. (The micronutrient made them less vulnerable to measles, malaria, diarrhea and dysentery.) Today, the WHO, UNICEF and their partners provide more than 400 million supplements a year for children in developing countries. That translates to hundreds of thousands of kids saved every year. But it's estimated that only one-quarter to one-third of children who need Vitamin A supplements actually will receive them.
Expand Oral Rehydration Therapy.
Cost: $0.10 per one-liter packet
Originally developed to treat cholera, oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is effective in treating dehydration due to diarrhea from any cause. ORT is also remarkably simple: Mix one packet of a powder containing glucose and electrolytes in water, and give it to people with diarrhea until they get better. Since 1980 when WHO and UNICEF introduced ORT in the developing world, the number of deaths due to diarrhea in children has dropped from 5 million to 2 million per year. The challenge today: to see that ORT is more widely used in developing countries to reduce mortality further, and in developed countries that favor IV treatments to reduce health care costs.
Build Latrines in Developing Countries.
$50 per latrine, depending on materials
In areas that don't have flush toilets, ventilated pit latrines can tremendously reduce the environmental contamination by parasites such as roundworms and tapeworms and by a whole range of bacteria and viruses. Though people don't often talk about them, pit latrines hold the potential for preventing most intestinal diseases, which frequently can be deadly in the developing world.
Use Bed Nets Treated with Insecticide.
$4.80 per bed net
Malaria is transmitted to humans by
the female Anopheles mosquito, which bites almost exclusively at night.
Bed nets have been shown to control the spread of the disease in endemic
regions. And yet they are underused. At least 70 percent of people in
the village need to use the net; then you see a major reduction in the
transmission of malaria. The nets need to be treated with insecticide
to effectively kill mosquitoes and serve as a barrier. Treated or untreated,
at just several dollars each, they're a bargain.
Treat premature newborns with antiseptic baby wipes or sunflower oil.
$0.30 per treated baby wipe; Sunflower oil: $0.20 per treatment
Preterm babies with a low birth weight
are often born with skin that isn't well formed, making them subject
to potentially fatal infections, a major cause of neonatal mortality
in developing countries. Special kinds of emollients can enhance the
function of the skin barrier and reduce the incidence of life-threatening
infections. Sunflower oil applied to babies' skin a couple of times
a day for a few weeks resulted in a 40 to 55 percent reduction in sepsis,
according to research in Egypt and Bangladesh, says neonatal health
specialist Gary Darmstadt. Using baby wipes (treated with a quarter
percent of diluted antiseptic solution) a few hours after delivery reduced
neonatal mortality 28 percent for low-birthweight babies.
Use home-based water purification systems.
$0.04 per sachet
More than 1 billion people in the world
don't have access to safe water. The encouraging news: Simple household
water treatment can stop the spread of deadly waterborne diseases such
as cholera. PUR packets from Procter and Gamble, which are very effective
in purifying drinking water in developing countries. The ketchup-sized
sachets contain some of the same components (chlorine and flocculent)
used to treat water in the U.S. Users merely mix a packet into a bucket
containing 10 liters (2.5 gallons) of water. The chlorine kills pathogens,
the flocculent causes dirt and contaminants to settle out, and the decontaminated
water is then filtered through a cloth before consumption.
Increase Birth Protection Availability.
$1 or less
Treatment for HIV/AIDS today is much
more effective than it was 20 years ago, but it doesn't actually cure
the disease, and we don't have a vaccine. That's why the best way to
stop the disease remains prevention. Behavior change and birth control
use can check the global pandemic. Unfortunately, shortages exist in
some developing countries that need them the most, and donor countries
need to continue to subsidize their cost.
Vaccinate Poor Children Against Measles.
$0.13 per dose
The measles vaccine is safe, inexpensive
and almost 100 percent effective. Yet in many developing countries,
only three out of four young children are immunized. (In some of the
poorest countries, less than half are.) The kids who don't get immunized
also tend to come from the poorest families, and it's the poorest children
who are largely at risk of dying from measles. As a result, 500,000
to 700,000 children die annually from this preventable disease, and
many others suffer lifelong disabilities, including blindness, deafness
and brain damage.
Breastfeeding is a vital source of nutrition for infants everywhere. In the developing world, the practice can be a matter of life or death. Feeding babies only breast milk for the first six months protects children from infection, especially diarrhea. According to UNICEF, exclusive breastfeeding until six months of age could save the lives of 1.5 million infants every year, and the health and development of millions more would be greatly improved.