A recent poll conducted by the British Medical Journal recently surveyed over eleven thousand random people from all over the world with a view to answering the question;
"What is the greatest med tech advancement in the last two hundred years?".
The answer was quite remarkable.
Specifically it was improvements to our sewer systems that took the win and while something I feel we all take for granted these days - I cannot help but think they make a good point.
So it seems that a well functioning, sanitised, sewer system is of greater importance than other med tech breakthroughs such as PET scanners, anti-biotics and life saving vaccines.
Prof Johan Mackenbach from the Erasmus University in Amsterdam remarked that a better sewer system is directly responsible for the bettering of general hygeine and in turn leads to a healthier general public.
"In 2002, heavily polluted water, poor sanitation & bad hygiene directly responsible for over two million fatalities from diarrheia in third world countries."
"Without a doubt, good hygeine and effective waste removal still plays a critical role in increasing our general hygeine both presently and in the years to come," Mackenbach remarked to the British Broadcasting Co-operation.
In light of the recent med tech findings Michael Adam, a health advocate and acclaimed med tech author recently remarked that recent breakthroughs in medicine is not match for increased health improvements accross the globe and conceded that it is something us Westerners often take for granted.
"The truth about public sanitation and our health is that practically all improvements in life expectancy over the last hundred years or so is due to public sanitation, not modern medical science.” he said.
“Most drug sellers tend to say that conventional medicine is saving X number of lives per year and generally people are living a lot longer lives today than they were previously, but the simple fact of the matter is that the most glory should go to the implementation of our sewage systems.”
Controversially he went on to say that if the USA reverted to natural-based medicines instead of standard, over the counter medicines then; "life expectancy will increase tenfold".
One of the earliest known recordings of pubic hygeine dates back to the early eighteen hundreds to try and counter the spread of cholera after it was eventually established that it was coming in through the water supply.
By switching off particular water-pumps (which contained polluted water), they were able to better understand how their water supply was becoming contaminated leading to a better general understanding of water hygeiene. This was the birth of a massive operation to deal with waste in a more controlled, safer and more hygienic way.
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Image used with kind permission of _gee_