21 January 2007

That wonderful porcelain pony

Quick, what's the the greatest medical breakthrough since 1840?

Give up? Try sewers.

Sewage disposal and clean water supplies, among other aspects of sanitation, were chosen over 15 key medical advances named in an international poll by the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
For all you cynics out there, yelling about DNA or antibiotics, I propose an experiment... try living for a month or two without, (a) your electron microscope, or (b) your indoor plumbing.

Let me know which you find more indispensable next month... if you're not lying in a coma in your own filth.
Waterborne disease, through inadequate sanitation and hygiene, is responsible for about 80 per cent of all sickness in the world, killing around 14,000 people each day.

As a result of sewer systems built by the Victorians, the infant mortality rate decreased to about 1 per cent over the next 100 years. In countries such as Bangladesh it is still as high as 12 per cent.
My wife's grandfather was born on a farm thirty minutes from here without plumbing or electricity. He made his way to the big city, got a university degree, married, taught highschool, eventually becoming principal... and never once, in my wife's memory, spoke of his rural salad days.

Call me spoiled, but the older I get... that punishingly hot twenty minute shower every morning becomes less of a luxury and more of a necessity.

I thank all that is holy for indoor plumbing.

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Anonymous said...

Too true. Hygiene made the greatest medical advances but it appears the lesson has been lost on some people in the medical community.

A retired nurse wrote a letter to the editor saying it's irresponsible for medical staff to ride the bus with the same clothes they work in - and that makes sense, etc.

trustonlymulder said...

Sid Meier's video game Civilization will not let a city grow past a certain size without an Aqueduct. I know it is just a video game but it is a great one.

And I would rather go without my computer than without indoor plumbing. That alone speaks volumes.

Neo Conservative said...

what would a little more handwashing and overall personal cleanliness have done for the sars outbreak?

as soon as my kid comes in the door, he goes to the bathroom and washes his hands.

just a thought...