Global & Disaster Medicine

Archive for the ‘Water’ Category

WHO-UNICEF: One in four health care facilities around the world lacks basic water services, impacting over 2 billion people

UNICEF

The WHO/UNICEF JMP report, WASH in Health Care Facilities, is the first comprehensive global assessment of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in health care facilities. It also finds that 1 in 5 health care facilities has no sanitation service*, impacting 1.5 billion people. The report further reveals that many health centres lack basic facilities for hand hygiene and safe segregation and disposal of health care waste.

These services are crucial to preventing infections, reducing the spread of antimicrobial resistance and providing quality care, particularly for safe childbirth.

“Water, sanitation and hygiene services in health facilities are the most basic requirements of infection prevention and control, and of quality care. They are fundamental to respecting the dignity and human rights of every person who seeks health care and of health workers themselves,” said António Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General.  “I call on people everywhere to support action for WASH in all health care facilities.  This is essential to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.”

The WHO/UNICEF JMP report found that just half – 55 per cent – of health care facilities in Least Developed Countries (LDCs) had basic water services. It is estimated that 1 in 5 births globally takes place in LDCs, and that, each year, 17 million women in these countries give birth in health centres with inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene.

“When a baby is born in a health facility without adequate water, sanitation and hygiene, the risk of infection and death for both the mother and the baby is high,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Every birth should be supported by a safe pair of hands, washed with soap and water, using sterile equipment, in a clean environment.”

In an accompanying report, Water, sanitation, and hygiene in health care facilities: Practical steps to achieve universal access for quality care, WHO and UNICEF researchers note that more than 1 million deaths each year are associated with unclean births. Infections account for 26% of neonatal deaths and 11% of maternal mortality.

“Imagine giving birth or taking your sick child to a health centre with no safe water, toilets or handwashing facilities,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “That’s the reality for millions of people every day. No one should have to do that, and no health worker should have to provide care in those circumstances. Ensuring that all health care facilities have basic water, sanitation and hygiene services is essential for achieving a healthier, safer, fairer world.”

At the 2019 World Health Assembly to be held in May, governments will debate a resolution on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Health Care Facilities which was unanimously approved by the WHO Executive Board earlier this year.

The WHO and UNICEF Practical Steps report provides details on eight actions governments can take to improve the WASH services in health care facilities including establishing national plans and targets, improving infrastructure and maintenance and engaging communities. These actions and resulting improvements in WASH services can yield dramatic returns on investment in the form of improved maternal and newborn health, preventing antimicrobial resistance, stopping disease outbreaks and improving quality of care.

According to UNICEF, 7,000 newborn babies died every day in 2017, mostly from preventable and treatable conditions including infections like sepsis. As part of its Every Child Alive Campaign, UNICEF is calling for governments and authorities to make sure every mother and baby have access to affordable, quality care. 

Last year, Fore and Dr Tedros called on countries to strengthen their primary health care systems as an essential step toward achieving universal health coverage.


Thirsty Exports

T Reuters

“……The 2019 U.N. World Water Development Report said that while safe, clean drinking water and sanitation are human rights, the world is not on track to provide those things to everyone by 2030.

People who are poor or marginalised due to gender, age, ethnicity or religious identity are also more likely to have limited access to proper water and sanitation…..”


Desalination pours more toxic brine into the ocean than previously thought

Science News

“…….Desalination facilities, which extract drinkable water from the ocean, discharge around 142 billion liters of extremely salty water called brine back into the environment every day, a study finds. That waste product of the desalination process can kill marine life and detrimentally alter the planet’s oceans…..”


Tuyuksu Glacier in Central Asia: In 6 decades it has lost more than 1/2 mile

NYT

“….The world’s roughly 150,000 glaciers, not including the large ice sheets of Greenland and Antarctica, cover about 200,000 square miles of the earth’s surface. Over the last four decades they’ve lost the equivalent of a layer of ice 70 feet thick…..”

 


Gaza: A shortage of potable water for drinking, cooking, and hygiene with a lack of wastewater sanitation.

Rand

  • More than a quarter of all reported disease in Gaza is caused by poor water quality and access.
  • The main source of Gaza’s water, its aquifer, is being depleted and its quality diminished by seawater intrusion, wastewater seepage, and agricultural runoff.


Cape Town & Day Zero: The recent past; the global future?

Global Health Now

“……On January 1, 2018, the city announced an official limit for sustainable water use of 450 million liters per day for the entire province and declared Level 6 water restrictions, capping household water use at 50 liters per residence per day. Over 6 months, the city issued tenders to build 3 emergency desalination plants, and reduced agricultural use by 60%. The city raised funding to research water saving and recovery technologies and water source diversification—moving away from reliance on the city’s dwindling reservoirs as the main water source…..”


The 11 cities most likely to run out of potable water for one reason or another

BBC

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that Cape Town is just the tip of the iceberg. Here are the other 11 cities most likely to run out of water.

1. São Paulo

2. Bangalor

3. Beijing

4. Cairo

5. Jakarta

6. Moscow

7. Istanbu

8. Mexico City

9. London

10. Tokyo

 

11. Miami

 

 


World Water Week: 26 – 31 August, 2018

World Water Week


Red Tide & Florida: NOAA

NOAA

NEW: Summer 2018 Red Tide Event Affecting the West Coast of Florida

 Frequently Asked Questions:

What is happening?

An unusually persistent harmful algal bloom (red tide) is currently affecting portions of the southwest coast of Florida. For the latest updates on this event, visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission red tide status website or the NOAA Harmful Algal Bloom Bulletin.

How long will this red tide last?

If and when bloom the current bloom will end remains an open-ended question. Red tides can last as little as a few weeks or longer than a year. They can even subside and then reoccur. In 2005, for example, a bloom started off the coast of St. Petersburg, Florida, in January and then spread from there to Pensacola and Naples by October, persisting for the majority of the year. The duration of a bloom in nearshore Florida waters depends on physical and biological conditions that influence its growth and persistence, including sunlight, nutrients, and salinity, as well as the speed and direction of wind and water currents. Researchers are watching oceanographic conditions in the region carefully and using forecasting tools similar to seasonal weather forecasts to predict how long this bloom will last.

map of redtide

NOAA issues twice weekly forecasts to monitor bloom conditions during a harmful algal bloom event.

What is NOAA’s role in responding to this red tide event?

NOAA conducts scientific research and provides forecasts to give communities advance warnings to better deal with the adverse environmental impacts, health effects and economic losses associated with red tide and other harmful algal bloom events.

NOAA monitors conditions year round and provides official forecasts for red tide through two main products: conditions reports and bulletins. The conditions report identifies if red tide cell concentrations are present and provides forecasts of the highest potential level of respiratory irritation over the next three to four days. Bulletins provide decision-makers with a more in-depth analysis of the location of a current bloom and reported impacts, as well as forecasts of potential development, intensification, transport, and associated impacts of blooms. Both products are updated twice weekly during a bloom.

In addition, NOAA and a network of trained and authorized professionals from state and local organizations work together to respond to stranded marine animals found along the coastline during these events.

Can this red tide event be stopped?

There are currently no means of controlling the occurrence of red tide.

Is this red tide dangerous?

The Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, produces potent neurotoxins, called brevetoxins, that can affect the central nervous system of many animals, causing them to die. That is why red tides are often associated with fish kills. Mortalities of other species, including manatees, dolphins, sea turtles, and birds also occur.

Wave action near beaches can break open K. brevis cells and release the toxins into the air, leading to respiratory irritation. For people with severe or chronic respiratory conditions, such as emphysema or asthma, red tide can cause serious illness. People with respiratory problems should avoid affected beaches during red tides.

Red tide toxins can also accumulate in filter-feeders mollusks such as oysters and clams, which can lead to Neurotoxic Shellfish Poisoning (NSP) in people who consume contaminated shellfish. While not fatal, NSP causes diarrhea and discomfort for about three days. Rigorous state monitoring of cells and toxins is conducted to close commercial shellfish harvesting if necessary to protect human health. Recreational shellfish harvesters should check State web pages to make sure it is safe to consume shellfish.

Is it still safe to go to the beach?

Some areas may be more affected than others. Check NOAA forecasts to assist in locating unaffected areas, and learn more about red tide health concerns from Florida Health.

Is this normal?

This year’s bloom is different from what we’ve seen before in several ways:

Timing: Blooms of this alga typically start in late summer or early fall. The last large early summer bloom was in 2005. The current bloom started last fall and is still going.

Duration: While not unprecedented in its duration, this bloom is unusually persistent. It started in October 2017 and continued through spring of 2018. By early summer, the bloom resurged and was detected in five southwest Florida counties. Some shellfish harvesting areas have been closed since November 2017.

Size: The size of the bloom changes from week to week, and it is patchy. Not every beach is affected every day, so it is important to stay up to date with the NOAA conditions report. As of August 15, the bloom stretched from Pinellas County to Collier County, more than 150 miles.

While the timing, duration, and size of this red tide are unusual, red tides are not new to the Gulf Coast. Red tides were documented in the southern Gulf of Mexico as far back as the 1700s and along Florida’s Gulf coast in the 1840s. Fish kills near Tampa Bay were even mentioned in the records of Spanish explorers. For more information on historical red tide events in Florida, see the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s harmful algal bloom monitoring database.

What do you do if you see sick, injured, stranded, or dead wildlife?

If you see sick, injured, or stranded wildlife, such as a sea turtle, manatee, dolphin, seabird, or a large fish kill in Florida, report it to the following standing network hotlines. To report an injured, hooked, entangled, or stranded sea turtle, call 1-877-942-5343. To report other sick or injured wildlife and fish kills, contact FWC Wildlife Alert or call 888-404-FWCC (888-404-3922). If you see dead or injured marine mammals, call 1-877-WHALE HELP (1-877-942-5343). You can also report via the Dolphin and Whale 911 Phone App.

What is the projected effect of this red tide on marine life? How long will it take for impacted marine life to recover?

There is no way to project the cumulative effects of this red tide event. Red tide occurs naturally in coastal waters of the Gulf of Mexico with blooms appearing seasonally. Although the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, typically blooms between August and December, blooms often deviate from that time frame. The current bloom continues to be monitored by our local and state partners. Visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) red tide status page. Reports of fish kills and marine animal deaths are made publicly available on FWC’s website. For more information on the effects of red tide on marine animals, shellfish, and people, visit our health information page for more information.

Can NOAA provide travel advice for people planning to visit this region?

While NOAA provides regional harmful algal bloom forecasts and supports research to better understand the causes, impacts, and effects of these events, we are not in a position to provide travel advice. We have provided links to Florida state resources in the right column of this announcement that we hope will help people make informed decisions about their travel plans.

red circle icon with Florida in white in center

Resources for More Information:

NOAA Resources

Florida Resources

Contact Us

General Information about Red Tide and NOAA’s Role in HAB Forecasting

What is red tide?

Harmful algal blooms occur nearly every summer along the nation’s coasts. Often, the blooms turn the water a deep red. While many people call all such events “red tides,” scientists prefer the term harmful algal bloom or HAB. A red tide or HAB results from the rapid growth of microscopic algae. Some produce toxins that have harmful effects on people, fish, marine mammals, and birds.  In Florida and Texas, this is primarily caused by the harmful algae species Karenia brevis. Red tide can result in varying levels of eye and respiratory irritation for people, which may be more severe for those with preexisting respiratory conditions (such as asthma). The blooms can also cause large fish kills and discolored water along the coast.

illustration of redtide

Red Tide in Florida and Texas

Red Tide in Florida and Texas is caused by the rapid growth of a microscopic algae called Karenia brevis. When large amounts of this algae are present, it can cause a harmful algal bloom (HAB) that can be seen from space. NOAA issues HAB forecasts based on satellite imagery and cell counts of Karenia brevis collected in the field and analyzed by NOAA partners. | Transcript

How Does the NOAA Forecast Work?

NOAA uses a combination of satellite imagery and water samples of the algae species Karenia brevis, collected from the field by local partners, to forecast the location and intensity of red tide events.  Satellite imagery is a key tool for detecting blooms before they reach the coast, verifying bloom movement and forecasting potential respiratory irritation.

illustration of redtide

Why Should You Care?

Red Tide in Florida and Texas produces a toxin that may have harmful effects on marine life. For people, The toxin may also become airborne, which can lead to eye irritation and respiratory issues in people. People with serious respiratory conditions such as asthma may experience more severe symptoms.| Transcript

Putting the Forecast into Action

The condition reports for red tide in Florida and Texas are available to the public and give the daily level of respiratory irritation forecasts by coastal region. NOAA also issues HAB bulletins that contain analyses of ocean color satellite imagery, field observations, models, public health reports, and buoy data. The bulletins also contain forecasts of potential Karenia brevis bloom transport, intensification, and associated respiratory irritation based on the analysis of information from partners and data providers. The bulletins are primarily issued to public health managers, natural resource managers, and scientists interested in HABs.  A week after the the bulletin is issued, it is posted to the Bulletin Archive where the public can access it.

illustration of redtide

Making Choices

State and local resources are available to help beachgoers find nearby beaches and coastal areas that are not affected by red tide, but are still nearby. | Transcript

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illustration of redtide

NOAA Forecasts Can Save Your Beach Day

By paying attention to NOAA’s HAB forecasts, beachgoers can still have a good time along the Florida and Texas coast. The conditions report for Red Tide in Florida and Texas can
be found online. | Transcript

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Infographic Transcript: Red Tide

Red Tide in Florida and Texas is caused by the rapid growth of a microscopic algae called Karenia brevis. When large amounts of this algae are present, it can cause a harmful algal bloom (HAB) that can be seen from space. NOAA issues HAB forecasts based on satellite imagery and cell counts of Karenia brevis collected in the field and analyzed by NOAA partners.

Why should you care? Red Tide in Florida and Texas produces a toxin that can have harmful effects for marine life. For people, the toxin can become airborne and cause respiratory issues and eye irritation. These symptoms can be more severe for people with serious respiratory issues such as asthma.

Making Choices. State and local resources are available to help beachgoers find beaches and coastal areas that are not impacted by Red Tide, but are still nearby.


India: “suffering from the worst water crisis in its history”

Thomas Reuters

  • 600 million people – nearly half India’s population – face acute water shortage
  • Close to 200,000 die each year from polluted water.
  • Nearly 70 percent of India’s water is contaminated, impacting three in four Indians and contributing to 20 percent of the country’s disease burden.
  • 21 major cities, including New Delhi and India’s IT hub of Bengaluru, will run out of groundwater by 2020, affecting 100 million people.


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