A drink of unsafe water, eating a piece of fruit rinsed in contaminated water, or being touched by someone who’s infected who hasn’t washed their hands, that’s all it takes to get Typhoid fever, a life-threatening bacterial infection.
Typhoid fever, caused by Salmonella Typhi bacteria, is still common in the developing world. The highly-contagious disease affects an estimated 11 to 21 million people annually, resulting in about 128,000 to 161,000 deaths per year.
Typhoid’s Long History of Destruction
While typhoid has almost vanished from high-income countries, it once caused devastation worldwide. For example, evidence shows that Typhoid was the mysterious killer of royalty and paupers worldwide for millennia. Typhoid was also a noted scourge of armies and war. The British Army reported more than 8,000 typhoid deaths during the Second Boer War (1898-1902).
Typhoid fever was also one of the first epidemics of the European colonists in the new world. Between 1607 and 1624, Typhoid fever killed 85 percent of the population at the James River in Virginia. Today, Typhoid is rare in the US, and most US citizens who get the disease get it while traveling.
The Economic Burden of Typhoid
Several cost-of-illness surveys have calculated the economic burden of typhoid. Poverty is rampant in the areas without access to clean water. In addition, families and individuals dealing with Typhoid fever and its lingering effects usually don’t have the financial capacity to cover treatments.
For example, the average typhoid case in an urban slum in Delhi, India, generated health system costs equaling twice a family’s monthly income. In other areas, including Pakistan, Vietnam, and China, estimated costs were $100 per case. Furthermore, hospitalization can increase the price by $500 per patient. In addition, rapidly rising rates of antibiotic resistance are increasing the duration and expense of treatment.
Preventing Typhoid Fever
Although medical interventions continue to advance in the fight to prevent and treat Typhoid fever, tackling the source of the illness remains the best path to prevention.
Typhoid fever is one of more than two dozen water-borne illnesses that affect people without clean water access or proper sanitation for their families. However, like many on the list of diseases caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation, Typhoid fever is preventable.
Ensuring that safe drinking water is available throughout the globe is an enormous undertaking, but it’s not impossible. It will take time and financial investment, but many options don’t carry exorbitant price tags. Most importantly, many of the affordable solutions to clean water are sustainable.
Thirst Relief International works with local partners and trains residents to provide employment opportunities and multiple clean water solutions:
Inexpensive and simple, Biosand filters can dramatically impact the life of a family and even an entire community for thirty years or more for approximately $100! Biosand filters are durable and easy to use, with a high yield rate and relatively little required maintenance. Local community members can undertake the BSF simple design repairs with minimal training.
Borehole Wells & Well Maintenance
Drilling borehole wells provide a sustainable clean water supply in areas where groundwater sources are a viable option. For example, for about $1350, one borehole well project in India made clean drinking water available to an entire village, about 550 people.
WASH is the collective term for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.
A W.A.S.H. program provides latrines, a borehole well, a water storage tank, filters, and water taps to deliver clean, safe water.
Ecosan Toilet Facilities
Ecosan latrines contain waste in an above-ground collection tank, keeping people free from contact with unsanitary water. In addition, the cost is kept low by using interlocking stabilized soil blocks (ISSB). The concrete and ISSB construction can last up to 25 years.
You Can Make a Difference
It’s impossible to overstate the impact of clean water and good hygiene in the battle against Typhoid fever. The Thirst Relief team and its partners remain committed to working tirelessly to bring clean water and sanitation solutions to the communities where it’s most needed. When you support Thirst Relief International, you help grow our mission and enhance our impact.
Your support keeps vulnerable people safe from preventable waterborne diseases like Typhoid fever. Each project made possible by donations means children can grow strong and healthy. Your gift can prevent millions of people from suffering and enable them to lead healthy, productive lives.