Over a billion people do not have access to clean,safe drinking water, resulting in the deaths of millions of adults and children each year from water related illnesses. Most of these deaths occur in poor countries that lack the resources to treat and supply clean drinking water, and to provide adequate medical treatment to those that are affected.
A developing partnership at Stony Brook University (SBU) through the School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS), School or Medicine, School of Public Health, and International Academic Programs, recognized the need to seek immediate solutions for these global environmental and health problems. In conjunction with John Ng’ongolo, Deputy Ambassador of Tanzania to the United Nations, and the Tanzania Health Consortium of Greater New York, SoMAS Professor Kamazima Lwiza helped organize a symposium at SoMAS on February 27, 2008 called ”Achieving sustainable access to clean water in Tanzania: Impact on human health.” This conference brought together some of the world’s leading experts on water, health and climate change to discuss problems and look at solutions to the growing environmental and health-related water issues in Tanzania. One of the main goods of this conference was to identify how the expertise and resources at SBU could be leveraged to help the situation in Tanzania.
“A large portion of the population in Tanzania still cannot access safe water. Much of the population lives in an environment that detrimentally affects their health. We cannot wait to address these issues. With this symposium we hope to develop a scalable program through Stony Brook University that can address water issues and human health in Tanzania while conserving the natural environment,” said Dr. Lwiza in his presentation.
At the symposium, speakers included experts from Tanzania, SBU faculty, and medical professionals from Ireland, George Washington University, and the Center for Disease Control. Talks focused on water-borne diseases, water pollution and other environmental challenges, water supply, and existing programs and policy. Presenters also discussed solutions to some of these challenges including solar disinfection techniques (SODIS), expanding water conservation and supply, water filtration and sanitation technology, public health and education programs, and building monitoring and forecasting capacity. SoMAS professors Minghua Zhang and Henry Bokuniewiez gave talks on the effects of climate change on water availability and on water harvesting and conservation. At the end of the day speakers and conference participants discussed different projects SBU could embark on in Tanzania to help address some of the issues with sustainable access to clean water. These discussions focused around projects that would reduce childhood mortality and account for cultural, environmental and economic conditions.
“This water conference not only highlighted the importance of the growing water and water-related health problems around the world, but was an important contribution of SoMAS to Black History Month,” said SoMAS Associate Dean Larry Swanson.
For more information on this symposium visit: http://www.msrc.sunysb.edu/news/Tanzania.html