EDITORIAL: Too many lives being lost to contaminated water EDITOR THIS DAY DAR ES SALAAM SCORES of Tanzanians die each day, with many others sickened by easily preventable water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, dysentery, diarrhoea and worms. These diseases, which are causing an unnecessary loss of lives, are all occasioned by poor sanitation and hygiene. A research carried out by Water Aid nationally between 2004 and 2005 showed that there were 12,923 reported cases of cholera with 350 deaths, 154,551 cases of dysentery with 170 deaths and 863,488 cases of typhoid with 1,167 deaths. And, according to a specialist with the country's Water and Sanitation Programme (WSP), 17 per cent of under-five deaths are attributed to diarrheal diseases, making it the second-largest killer of minors after pneumonia. The principal transmission route of these diseases is by drinking contaminated water. These diseases can be prevented by simple hygiene, such as washing hands before and after eating, boiling of drinking water and the proper use of latrines. We fully concur with the observations of medical experts that proper hygiene and sanitation are the best and most cost-effective public health interventions to prevent the spread of such diseases and reduce childhood mortality. We also believe that proper education on hygiene and sanitation could be potent weapons in the fight against water-borne diseases. Therefore, we call upon the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and other related government ministries and NGOs to increase public education on the perils of poor hygiene and sanitation. While our donor friends have come to our assistance now and then to aid water projects, we urge local authorities and citizens themselves to embrace the spirit of self-help rather than simply wait for foreign assistance. It is our sincere belief that with a slight change of the people's mindset, we can easily wipe out water-borne diseases. Water is indeed the source of life, but dirty water can actually be the exact opposite of that.