International water and health specialist Prof Stephen Luby
highlights the importance of healthy water supplies. Photo
by Gregor Richardson.
Looming major water shortages in developing countries
pose a potential threat to international peace and security, as
well as to human health, Prof Stephen Luby, a water and health
Prof Luby is deputy director for research at the Centre for
Global Health Innovation, Stanford University, in the United
He was director of an epidemiology unit in Pakistan, from
1993-98, and served as director for a Centre for Communicable
Diseases in Bangladesh from 2004 until earlier this year.
He is visiting the University of Otago to attend the Otago
International Health Research Network's fifth annual
conference, which starts today.
He will give an open lecture, called the McKinlay Oration,
about global water shortages and health at the Colquhoun
Lecture Theatre, Dunedin Hospital, at 5.30pm today.
Although officially about 70% of the populations of Pakistan
and Bangladesh were connected to a water supply, he estimated
less than 20% were connected to a supply that was
consistently free from chemical or sewage contamination.
The biggest problem caused by contaminated drinking water was
diarrhoea, and thousands of children under the age of 5 were
dying every day.
Improving the quality and security of water pipelines was a
key step towards improved health.
Water was also being drawn from aquifers at a non-sustainable
rate and innovative, collaborative approaches were needed to
deal with future water supply and management issues.
"A business-as-usual approach is going to lead to widespread
conflict and starvation," he said.
University of Otago researchers, including at Otago's Centre
for International Health, were contributing to valuable
multidisciplinary research in developing countries, he said.