The Diarrhea Pioneers

Haiti's cholera outbreak highlights a dismal statistic: diarrhea is the number-two infectious killer of children under the age of five in developing countries, accounting for roughly two million deaths a year. A simple but ingenious innovation could bring that number down sharply - if only regulators would do their jobs.

Editors’Note: August 4, 2017
Legitimateobjections have been raised about the independence and integrity of thecommentaries that Henry Miller has written for Project Syndicate and other outlets, inparticular that Monsanto, rather than Miller, drafted some of them. Readersshould be aware of this potential conflict of interest, which, had it beenknown at the time Miller’s commentaries were accepted, would have constitutedgrounds for rejecting them.

PALO ALTO – On top of the devastation caused in Haiti by the January earthquake, Hurricane Tomas this month, and the subsequent dislocations, exposure, and malnutrition, the country is now experiencing an accelerating cholera outbreak. At least 8,000 people are currently in hospital, and the death toll is near 600 from this waterborne bacterial disease. And, given the widespread unavailability of clean water, basic sanitation, and medical facilities, those numbers are sure to increase.

Even in the absence of natural disasters, diarrhea is the number-two infectious killer of children under the age of five in developing countries (surpassed only by respiratory diseases), accounting for roughly two million deaths a year. However, thanks to a simple but ingenious innovation by an emerging bioscience company, those numbers could become a relic of the past, like mortality from smallpox and bubonic plague.

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