Being a developing country, Pakistan is unable to meet the demand of safe drinking water. The unavailability of safe drinking water is leading to serious diseases including Diarrhea which is caused by poorly drained or unsafe drinking water. According to WHO report 25%-30% of all hospital admissions are associated with water borne bacterial and parasitic diseases with 60% of infant deaths caused by water borne infections. In Pakistan, according to an estimation 250,000 children under the age of 5 years die every year due to water borne diseases.  One of the most simple, delicate and inexpensive device is Life straw that provides instant access to clean and safe water.  It is the only ‘truly outdoor product’ that is available in the public health segment.

Water covers 70% of the earth’s surface i.e. ¾ of the Earth is covered with water. Of which, approximately 97.2% is Saline while only 2.8% Fresh to be used for drinking or using for basic needs. Contaminated water causes more than half a million deaths per year. Being a developing country, Pakistan is unable to meet the demand of safe drinking water. The unavailability of safe drinking water is leading to serious diseases including Diarrhea which is caused by poorly drained or unsafe drinking water. According to WHO report 25%-30% of all hospital admissions are associated with water borne bacterial and parasitic diseases with 60% of infant deaths caused by water borne infections. In Pakistan, according to an estimation 250,000 children under the age of 5 years die every year due to water borne diseases. Rural and the highly congested urban areas are mainly suffering from the unavailability of safe drinking water. Most of the areas have a single source of water, that may be a river, pond or rainwater from a basin or creek. Such water source is used by both humans and animals. People use it for laundry, cooking, bathing and also drinking, which leads to a number of water borne diseases.

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Water borne diseases:

Majority of the water borne diseases include Diarrhea, Typhoid, Cholera, poliomyelitis and other diseases that not only affect the normal consumption of food and reduce the adsorption of nutrients but also an important cause of malnutrition, which leads to impaired cognitive development & physical growth, reduced resistance towards infection, and potential Hepatitis A & E resulting from poorly drained and unsafe drinking water. Such diseases are caused by Bacteria, viruses and parasites. The percentage of these agents are given as follows:

Bacteria are the high percentage causative agents involved in water borne diseases. The high ratio of bacteria is involved in over half a million deaths per year. The contamination of safe water is mainly due to Industrial waste, animal waste, leakage of sewage lines and waste water, which lead to a number of highly infectious diseases including cholera, typhoid and diarrhea.

Solution against water borne diseases:

Water filters have always been the most effective procedures amongst all water treatment methods for reducing diarrheal and other infectious diseases. One of the most simple, delicate and inexpensive device is Life straw that provides instant access to clean and safe water. It filters up to 18,000 liters of water and is quite enough to supply a family of five members with microbiologically high volume of purified drinking water for at least three years, thus removing the need for repeat intervention. For a developing country like Pakistan whose budget for water supply and sanitation is less than 0.2% of GDP, requires an inexpensive and easy to use device, Life Straw that requires neither any electrical power or battery supply nor any piped-in water supply for its running.

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Construction and working of Life Straw:

It is a 2-stage filtration setup. The stage 1 setup contains an activated carbon capsule that will reduce bad odor, taste, chlorine and organic chemical matter. The stage 2 setup contains hollowfiber membrane that removes 99.999% of bacteria specially (E. coli) and 99.99% protozoa like (Giardia, Cryptosporidium etc.). The setup is used by uncapping both ends, standing it up in water for 10 seconds and then taking quick sips from the mouthpiece. LifeStraw is blown regularly after drinking to keep the filter clean and prevent clogging.

Benefits of Life Straw:

Due to its small size, portability and feasibility in structure Life Straw is composed of the following benefits.

  • It is Easy-to-use.
  • It requires no electrical power or spare parts for the lifetime of the straw.
  • It is highly Consistent and provides efficient resistance to bacterial disinfection.
  • The setup is portable, light weight and thus, easy to distribute in large amount in emergency situations and areas where drinking water is contaminated.
  • A single device carries a capacity of 700 liters and does not require to be purchased repeatedly in emergencies.
  • It is the only ‘truly outdoor product’ that is available in the public health segment.
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Authors:

Miss Safa Khalid                                                                               Mr. Muhammad Rizwan

BS (hons) Bioinformatics                                                                       MS Management Agribusiness

University of Agriculture, Faisalabad-38000, Pakistan

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