Welcome to “Preventing Waterborne Diseases – the Major Cause of Death in Developing Countries”


Hi, my name is [PRESENTER NAME]. I’m [PRESENTER ROLE]. Welcome to “Preventing Waterborne Diseases – the Major Cause of Death in Developing Countries”


This video will teach you about the various types of waterborne diseases, who is affected by them, and how they can be prevented.


Worldwide, over 2 billion people don't have access to a safe water supply.  Over 2 million people, most of them children, die each year from preventable waterborne diseases.  That’s 14,000 deaths daily, or one death every 15 seconds, from completely preventable diseases.


Things that cause waterborne diseases, such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, can be present in the water, soil, or air, on people's hands, or on things people have touched. 

The most common way these diseases affect the body is by causing diarrhea, in addition to other symptoms. Infants, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems (such as those with HIV or AIDS) are especially vulnerable to waterborne diseases.


These diseases are spread in several ways.

1) Waterborne diseases are most commonly spread when people drink impure water.  In developing countries water is often contaminated by feces from humans or animals that contains things that cause diseases. People who drink the contaminated water may develop a waterborne disease resulting in diarrhea or other symptoms.

2) Waterborne diseases can also spread when people get things that cause diseases on their hands and then touch their eyes, nose or mouth. This is especially likely when people can’t or don’t wash their hands correctly.


So how do you know when a person has a waterborne disease? Symptoms include abdominal cramping, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. In vulnerable people such as infants, children, the elderly, and those with weakened immune systems, the diarrhea often leads to severe dehydration and malnutrition, which in turn often leads to death.


How can you reduce your own risk of contracting a waterborne disease? First, and most important, drink only clean water. Sources of clean water include deep wells, natural streams in remote areas that have not been contaminated by human and animal wastes upstream, urban water systems that use chlorinated water, and purified water from filter systems.  The second way to reduce your risk of contracting a waterborne disease is to wash your hands correctly, especially after you use the toilet or latrine and before you prepare food or eat. Third, wash fruits and vegetables in clean water before you eat them. And fourth, if you go swimming, avoid swallowing the water.


How can a village or city reduce its risk of outbreaks of waterborne diseases? The most important steps are to provide everyone reliable access to clean water and to ensure that human wastes are disposed of in a way that won’t contaminate the water supply or expose others to them.


There are several ways to provide reliable access to clean water. These include digging a deep well, piping clean water in from a remote source, using a water filter system, or installing a central water treatment and chlorination facility. Waterborne diseases are preventable. By using modern technology and working together, we can improve water quality for those in the most remote areas of the world. This is [PRESENTER NAME].


This script was reviewed for accuracy and approved by Becky Kuhn, M.D. on July 30, 2011.