This is the first of a series of posts by undergraduate journalism and public relations students at the University of Florida. Layman’s Terms Media will serve as a platform for those willing to give science and health communication a try. By using this blog as a platform, students will get one-one time with an editor and mentor to ease them into one of the areas of communication that are often misunderstood.
By: Kayla Hunt
According to UNICEF, contaminated drinking water and lack of sanitation accounts for the death of about 1,800 children under the age of five every day.
In an effort to ease this dilemma, scientists from more than 100 organizations and governments have collaborated with Procter & Gamble’s nonprofit program, Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW), alongside the Center for Disease Control to come up with a purification process so simple kids can do it.
The process is as easy as making instant coffee. First, take about an ounce of this “miracle powder,” put it in roughly 10 liters of water and stir.
In about 30 minutes, the finished result is drinking water that looks like it came right from a Brita filter. Seriously, a 2-year-old can do this.
“We call it a mini-water-treatment plant in a packet,” CSDW Manager Allison Tummon Kamphuis, R.N., M.B.A. said.
She explained that the powder in the ketchup-sized packet is like a municipal water-treatment plant that is portable.
The packet’s ingredients pack a powerful punch against the contamination. The main ingredients are calcium hypochlorite and ferrice sulfate. Calcium hypochlorite kills deadly pathogens, and ferric sulfate sticks to the dirt and other pathogens that aren’t killed by the calcium hypochlorite.
The initiative began in the mid-1990s and by the mid-2000s, the team had perfected the ketchup-sized packet that to this day has saved about 32,000 lives by providing more than 6 billion quarts of clean water.
The Purifier of Water packets, which run at about 10 cents a pop have been used in countries like Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Africa, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda and Pakistan. To this date, the packets have served populations in a total of 71 countries. Tummon Kamphuis said she hopes the miracle packet will help the team reach their goal of saving one life every hour by 2020.
To reach this goal, the team built a new production center was opened in Singapore last year and plans to invest in wide-reaching public awareness campaigns in the near future.
“The real key to us achieving numbers like that and providing that much water and having the estimated health impact that we report is really partnership,” Tummon Kamphuis said.