Thursday, September 3, 2009
Photo: A selection of male condoms and one female condom.
I arrived in Nakuru on Tuesday and hope to be here for some time. Yesterday I went to Salgaa, in the district, to see some of the work ICROSS is doing there. Food was being distributed among HIV positive people, who are in especial need of good nutrition in order to ensure their antiretroviral drugs work properly.
Food is in short supply in many parts of Kenya right now but even when there is plenty of food, HIV positive people don't always have access to it because they have little money and can't always reach the market. Sometimes the government meets its obligations and supplies a little food. At other times the food must be supplied by NGOs and other parties. After the food was distributed by ICROSS volunteers and local care workers we went to visit some of the recipients.
The main work I hope to be involved in is a solar water purification method called SODIS. Water is exposed to sunlight for a number of hours and the combined effect of ultraviolet light and heat kills many of the pathogens. This means that people can avail of a cheap method of water purification which helps reduce incidence of water borne conditions, especially ones that result in diarrhea, which affects millions of people every year and is responsible for about 20% of deaths among children.
The main targets for promotion of SODIS, in addition to children, are people with HIV. They are particularly susceptible to any conditions and reducing water borne diseases should make a big difference in reducing the number of pathogens they are exposed to.
The efficacy of SODIS has long been demonstrated and ICROSS was one of the pioneers of the method and of the controlled trials. Despite this, a recent paper questioning the effectiveness of SODIS on the ground in Bolivia has been published. This has attracted a lot of attention because the authors suggest delaying promotion of the method until further research has been carried out.
Proponents of SODIS, including myself, would disagree, as the method has undergone many successful trials. Work with the method is at a very advanced stage. What needs to be questioned is a trial where the results are so poor. Of course, advocating the method is a long and difficult process and everyone involved has much to learn. But SODIS does work; how well supported the communities adopting it are is an entirely different question.
But more on SODIS presently.