|December 27, 2011
Environmental sciences and engineering
About diarrheal disease
According to the World Health Organization:
- Diarrheal disease is responsible for 4.8 percent of the global disease burden (2.2 million deaths each year).
- It causes 7.2 percent of the disease burden in developing countries, where children under age 5 suffer the most.
- In 2008, it caused 2,464,425 deaths worldwide – 919,190 in Africa alone.
- Ninety-four percent of diarrheal disease is attributable to environmental factors including unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation and hygiene.
After completing an undergraduate degree at Tufts University, Jonny Crocker volunteered in Latin America and Ghana.
A schistosomiasis prevention project he worked on in Ghana convinced him to come to UNC for a Master of Science in Environmental Engineering (2011) and a doctoral degree.
“I realized that graduate work would allow me to be involved in bigger projects and have greater impact,” he says.
I remember declaring my major as environmental engineering during freshman year without knowing what that meant.
The following year, I joined Engineers Without Borders on a whim and spent a summer working with a community in Tibet to make solar cookers to reduce indoor air pollution and compositing latrines to prevent waterborne diseases.
I saw that many people are born into a poverty trap and that engineering solutions could help their situation. Although my perspectives on infectious disease prevention have changed a lot, that summer stays with me as the first time I knew what I wanted to do with my career.Since Tibet, I’ve worked on water and sanitation projects in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Everywhere I travel, I meet the most amazing individuals who are working as hard as they can to try to provide for their families.
Frequent infectious disease from lack of safe drinking water is a constant obstacle, keeping children from attending school and adults from working. I hope to spend my career working on solutions to alleviate the disease burden, helping these individuals reach their full potential.
Carolina Public Health is a publication of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Gillings School of Global Public Health. To view previous issues, please visit www.sph.unc.edu/cph.