The theme of APHA’s annual meeting is Water and Public Health. During the opening general session Dr. Mirta Roses Periago, Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) underlined the effects of climate change on human health, the new challenges faced by global health and the importance of access to safe water. Dr. Periago reinforced that combining water, sanitation and hygiene interventions can reduce up to 80% of the preventable water borne and related disease. The Millennium Development Goal target for 7c is to reduce by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. Dr. Periago stated that a one dollar investment in water and sanitation provides a $46 savings in social and development cost. The ideal would be to have water, climate change and equity addressed in a combined sustainable approach.
Celine Cousteau reinforced the importance of the connection between people and the environment. Ms. Cousteau is a story teller whose passion preserving our natural resources is equaled by her passion to bring health care to the indigenous people of the Vale do Javari reserve in Brazil. The film Amazon Promise is a celebration of one organization’s goal to bring health care to those in need…. the same passion found in so many of our public health workers around the globe.