In our public health nursing class we have a massive project to complete that accounts for 50% of our semester grade. All of the projects are related to goals set by Healthy People 2020. Each one of us were assigned to take one of the goals (we were given a shortened list of goals to choose from, as choosing from the entire list of 1,500 health goals might have been somewhat overwhelming).
This is my goal:
EH-24: Healthy People 2020 Objective EH-24 is reduce the deaths caused by the global burden of disease related to poor water quality, sanitation, and insufficient hygiene from 34.4 deaths per 100,000 population (2004) to 26.3 deaths per 100,000 population (2020).
How incredibly simple, right?
(Barely related side note: When I was learning how to write papers in college, my (favorite) English professor taught me a good trick. The more specific and narrowly-defined your paper’s topic is, the easier it is to write. Often with research papers, my instinct was to keep the topic as broad as humanly possible. If I was supposed to write a research paper over Othello, I’d want the topic to be just that. Othello. Instead, it’s much easier if you make your topic “Ways in which Shakespeare demonstrates his obvious sexism in the play Othello.” It doesn’t sound like that would be an easier paper to write, but it is. I promise. In fact, I wrote that paper, and believe me. It was easy to write. So it’s pretty awesome that my paper topic is so specific and narrowly defined. Not at all broad. Or, ahem, GLOBAL.)
Because of this project and my topic, I’ve been doing a lot of research about the status of potable water and proper sanitation throughout the world. The facts about how many people do not have acceptable or effective sanitation are shocking. Half (HALF!) of the population of Asia (ASIA!) does not have proper sanitation facilities. Do you know how many people there are in Asia? I’d thought that the biggest problem would be in Africa, but I was wrong. The quantity of people in Asia without sanitation is larger than the sum total of the rest of the world’s sanitation-less population.
All of this has been a really long way to inform you about my perspective. It’s important that you know my perspective so that you don’t think I’m an asshole when I say that this is one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever seen:
Do I think education is wrong? No. I think it’s good. Do I hate technology? No. I love it. Do I think that it’d be awesome if every child had access to a computer? Yes, I really, really do. Do I, however, think that perhaps the “One Laptop Per Child” group is getting a little ahead of themselves? Yeah. I do. I think it might be a better idea for us to solve the teeny problem of giving people clean, disease free water before we start to think about computers*. 2.2 million people, mostly children, die annually in developing countries from diseases associated with lack of safe drinking-water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene.
I’m all for the computer thing. Just, first things, first. First things, first, you know?
*I will make an exception to my issue if the One Laptop Per Child people will allow me to put some kind of educational software** onto the computers which could teach people in rural areas how to implement proper sanitation, and teach them why it’s important.
**Damn, that’s a good idea. I should put that into my project.