Friday, October 16, 2009

Japan promotes Global Handwashing Day

October 15, 2009 Millions of children and adults in over 80 countries are marking the second annual Global Handwashing Day with special events and activities. As part of this effort, UNICEF Japan and its partners have launched a project to promote handwashing among children in Japan and around the world.

Watch the 'Global Handwashing Dance' public service announcement, choreographed and performed by Kaiji Moriyama to promote improved hygiene for children in Japan and worldwide.

Handwashing with soap is an effective way to prevent the spread of diseases and illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and the H1N1 infuenza virus. It is one of the most affordable and effective interventions to prevent needless deaths of children under the age of five.

The UNICEF Japan initiative has two objectives: to promote proper handwashing and to raise awareness about the problem of children dying of preventable diseases.

A global movement

Children from Cambodia, China, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Madagascar and Timor-Leste participated in a second video spot that is being shown on digital billboards in Japan.

By featuring these children from across the globe, the spot illustrates how handwashing with soap has become a worldwide movement. It is hoped that the video will foster a sense of camaraderie among children in different countries and regions.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Water Conservation: The Little Things Count

I've posted a video below where celebrities Jessica Biel and Pete Wentz talk about water conservation at a Live Earth press conference. They are participating in Live Earth's Run for Water, which is a series of 6km runs/walks (the average distance many women and children walk every day to secure water). Jessica Biel talks about how she never really thought about where water comes from -- that you turn on the faucet or get in the shower and don't think that this is a precious resource or that many people around the world don't have access to safe drinking water. Pete Wentz also emphasizes that every day 5,000 kids die because their drinking water is unsafe. I think it's great that there is an event like this to draw awareness to water conservation and the lack of clean drinking water in many areas of the world. As Jessica Biel talks about, the little things really add up in water conservation such as not running your water when you brush your teeth or taking shorter showers.

My only comment on this project is that they are ignoring an important piece of the puzzle. Not only should we highlight the lack of clean drinking water, but the lack of adequate sanitation in many areas around the world. 2.6 billion people lack adequate sanitation and this problem goes hand in hand with the lack of clean drinking water. Adequate sanitation can drastically cut down on disease and save lives just like, if not more so than access to clean water. When you think about clean water also think about where that water goes after you make it dirty, or where our waste goes after we flush it down the toilet. Many areas in the world not only need clean drinking water, but also access to a sanitation system: two things we can take for granted.

Monday, October 5, 2009

National Prostrate Cancer Awareness Month, September 2009

Photo: Commissioner Frank Avila presents MWRDGC Resolution to Doctor William J. Catalona for National Prostrate Cancer Awareness Month.

September was National Prostrate Cancer Awareness Month. In the last decade, significant progress has been made in the fight against prostrate cancer. Despite this progress, more work still needs to be done to find better ways to prevent, detect and control this disease. Among men, prostrate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in America and the second leading cause of cancer deaths.
I know personally how this disease can affect you and those around you. Last year, I was diagnosed with Prostrate Cancer and had "nerve-sparing" radical prostatectomy surgery. The surgery was successful. I was lucky I caught the cancer early and was able to seek out treatment for the disease.
There is a great need to continue to raise awareness and increase knowledge about this disease by supporting prostrate cancer research. I also want to urge all men, especially those over the age of 40, to talk to their doctors about their risk of prostrate cancer and, if appropriate, get screened for the disease.
I was honored to sponsor a MWRDGC resolution for Prostrate Cancer Awareness Month that was presented in the September 17th MWRDGC Board Meeting. In the resolution, I also honored Doctor William J. Catalona, Medical Director of the Urological Research Foundation. Dr. Catalona leads one of America's premier teams of physicians and scientists in the endeavor to treat and find a cure for prostrate cancer.
I applaud the dedication of researchers and doctors such as Dr. Catalona and the Urological Research Foundation, and all who are working to increase knowledge of prostrate cancer so that lives can be saved.