UN Secretary Ban Kimoon's declaration of 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation marks a milestone in scientific and funding focus to a more comprehensive global approach for improving human health conditions worldwide. Undoubtedly we can have significantly more impact on the lives and health of children and adults in underdeveloped regions by improving their living conditions and basic needs, rather than focusing on one disease or another.
With over a billion people worldwide estimated to lack access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation, these basic health needs are far more critical than the prevention of more high-profile diseases such as AIDS. Without safe water and minimal sanitation, many of these people, especially children, will succumb to diarrhea, amoebic dysentery and other water-born illnesses long before they have a chance to contract AIDS.
It is precisely this realization that drives Rotary International's (http://www.wasrag.org/) focus on global health and hunger, with specific emphasis on safe water projects. This is not the first time Rotary has partnered with the United Nations and the World Health Organization to attack disease on a global scale - note Rotary's commendable efforts in polio eradication over the past two decades, again in partnership with UNICEF, the WHO and CDC.