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Fighting Diseases that Kill Children

Pavani Ram, an assistant professor of social and preventive medicine, is studying how something as simple as handwashing could affect pressing public health problems.

I’m motivated, No. 1, by compassion. And I’m motivated to try to identify low-tech solutions with high impacts on public health. I have in my office this sign that says, ‘24,000 children around the world died yesterday. What are you doing about it?
Pavani Ram
assistant professor of social and preventive medicine

Pavani Ram, an assistant professor of social and preventive medicine, is looking for simple solutions to pressing public health problems.

According to the World Health Organization, diarrheal disease is the second-leading cause of death for the very young, killing 1.8 million children worldwide every year through symptoms including dehydration and malnutrition.

With funding from the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program, an international team, including Ram, is measuring how the promotion of hand washing with soap affects hand-washing behavior, diarrhea morbidity and other child development measures in four countries: Peru, Senegal, Tanzania and Vietnam.

The goal is to save lives.

Ram also is learning whether handwashing can prevent influenza in densely populated low-income countries, an issue potentially critical to saving millions of lives during the next influenza pandemic.

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