A new United Nations report bowls us over by suggesting that the most underused tool for preventing disease in the Third World is the toilet.
Two million children die every year due to the effects of water laden with human waste. As the New York Times puts it, "More than a third of the world's people — 2.6 billion — have no decent place to go to the bathroom."
U.N. expert Kevin Watkins puts it succinctly: "Issues dealing with human excrement tend not to figure prominently in the programs of political parties contesting elections or the agendas of governments. They're the unwanted guests at the table."
If you think a public discussion of doo-doo is embarrassing, try this: According to the U.N. report, the annual price of providing sanitation and clean drinking water for the toilet-less is the same as what we spend on bottled water in America alone.