Make water a top global priority. It’s the best, cheapest way to save lives (USA Today)

USA TODAY | This summer has seen the unprecedented and simultaneous outbreak of six of eight diseases posing the greatest threats to public health, according to the World Health Organization. You’d think that after the alarmingly fast spread of Ebola in West Africa just a few years ago, we’d have learned our lesson. Instead, the health intervention that has saved more lives than any other in recorded history remains alarmingly absent in global health care. That poses an immediate and long-term danger to us all.

We call it WASH — water, sanitation and hygiene. It’s the most critical resource in my preparation for every surgical procedure I performed over my lifetime, and it is dismally deficient or nonexistent in hundreds of thousands of health care facilities around the world. Not only are we wasting billions of dollars in health care costs and lost productivity, we’re undercutting our most effective front-line defense in disease prevention and containment.  

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