Device, meant to provide pathogen-free water, to be tested soon
Inspired by the traditional Indian practice of storing drinking water in copper pots, a team from the Institute of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine (IAIM), Bangalore, has developed a low-cost, portable purifier. It is to be tested in the country soon.
The device, a copper based coil, standardised to act against water-borne pathogens that cause cholera and typhoid, has been laboratory-tested by Padma Venkat and her team.
The point-of-use device has been designed for providing pathogen-free water to poor households in India and Kenya. Expected to cost about Rs. 500, it will last a lifetime, says Dr. Venkat.
“It is safe, easy-to-use and requires no electricity to function, and no cartridges to recharge.” says Dr. Venkat, adding the device is aimed at sections which cannot afford a regular filter or frequent maintenance cost.
A proposal to test the device has won a $100,000(Cdn)-grant from Grand Challenges Canada (GCC), an organisation funded by the Government of Canada. The proposal was submitted to GCC by three students of McGill University’s International Masters for Health Leadership (IMHL) programme, including Dr. Venkat.
Dr. Venkat’s research team demonstrated under laboratory conditions that storing drinking water overnight with the copper device killed deadly diarrhoeagenic pathogens. These findings were re-confirmed at the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), Kolkata.
The device would be tested in Bangalore slums, Dr. Venkat told The Hindu via email.
If successful, she “would like to do a multicentric trial, optimise design based on user feedback and link up with government agencies for its large-scale promotion.”
Dr. Venkat also intends scientifically demonstrating the physiological benefits of copper such as improving immunity, as per Ayurveda.
According to her, the surface area of the device to the volume of water is crucial and has been standardised for efficacy. Infectious diarrhoea is the cause of around 2.2 million deaths every year, most of them of children under five from developing countries.
The project will be funded by Action Africa Help-International (AAH-I), a Nairobi based NGO. GCC works with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and other global health foundations and organisations.