Stories from the Field


CDC and Partners Support Efforts to Improve Universal Hand Hygiene
Painted mural about handwashing on the side of a building.

CDC and partners assessed WASH conditions and implemented WASH projects in select healthcare facilities, community settings, and households that were considered higher risk for COVID-19 transmission.

Delivering Health by the Drop
A young girl drinks safe water from a SWS storage vessel in her home.

In the world today, close to 1 billion people still drink water collected directly from streams, lakes and shallow hand-dug wells, while hundreds of millions more drink contaminated water from unsafe municipal systems or borehole wells.

Life–saving collaborations: USAID and CDC
Image of Haitian Health Care Workers in Room

In global health work, it is important to find legacies that stand the test of time and scrutiny. CDC and USAID’s collaboration to address critical global health issues is one that provides both agencies the opportunity to build such a legacy.

Lack of soap means illness, death for millions of children
An Ivorian child washes her hands on the first Global Handwashing Day, which took place in 2008.

It still makes Fatoma Dia’s eyes widen whenever the Hilton hotel cleaning worker sees a bar of barely used soap on a bathroom counter. “This,” she says, picking it up with a gloved hand and dropping it in a brown bucket, “is valuable where I come from.” The 35-year-old grew up in a mountainous region of southern Sudan where soap can cost more than a day’s wages. CNN Heroes reports on the CDC-WHO collaboration that has led to facilitating better sanitation in needy regions and teaching people the importance of basic hand washing.

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Accelerated Alcohol-Based Hand Rub Production Supports Uganda Hospitals During Ebola Outbreak
Accelerated mass alcohol-based hand rub production of over 16,400 liters to support Ebola outbreak response in high-risk districts.

As a result of CDC and partner preparedness efforts, Ugandan hospitals and healthcare workers received quick and sufficient supply of alcohol-based hand rub during the ongoing Ebola outbreak.

Ugandan Healthcare Facilities Produce Own Alcohol-Based Hand Rub During COVID-19
Tree-mounted sign outside ABHR production facility in Amuru, Uganda reading, “Together we will kick COVID-19 out of Uganda.”

As COVID-19 spread around the world in early 2020, countries – rich and poor – quickly faced a global shortage of hand sanitizer, one of the protective products that contribute to stopping the spread of the disease. However, some healthcare facilities (HCFs) in Uganda did not have to scramble to find hand sanitizer. With support from CDC, a local partner—the Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI)—was already helping these facilities produce their own low-cost alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) and providing communications materials to promote good hand hygiene practices.

CDC hand hygiene efforts in Western Kenya
A clinician at a healthcare facility in Kisumu County, Kenya

Hand hygiene is a simple and effective way to help prevent the spread of infections, such as COVID-19. However, people in low-resource settings often do not have access to hand hygiene supplies, such as soap, water, and alcohol-based hand rub. This is a serious problem in healthcare facilities, where both healthcare workers and patients risk infections if hand hygiene supplies are not available. To increase access to hand hygiene supplies in underserved healthcare facilities in Western Kenya, CDC is supporting the production and distribution of alcohol-based hand rub by Safe Water and AIDS Project (SWAP).

CDC Pilots WASH Training for Outbreak Response in Sierra Leone
Water analysts read results of a water quality test

Public health officials, partners, and stakeholders in Sierra Leone asked CDC to help strengthen the country’s WASH workforce to combat diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio and to be better prepared for future disasters and outbreaks.

CDC Fights Cholera in Cameroon
A young boy takes a dose of the oral cholera vaccine distributed in his village in northern Cameroon.

Working with global partners, CDC supported Cameroon’s government in launching its largest-ever oral cholera vaccination campaign, targeting 127,000 people in regions most at risk for the disease. Cholera prevention activities are part of the Global Health Security Agenda’s Emergency Management project in Cameroon.

Bringing Clean, Safe, and Innovative Sanitation Services to East Africa
a group of men and women showcasing a portable toilet

Have you ever stopped to think about how many times you use a toilet each day? We often take it for granted that when we “need to go,” a toilet will be nearby. However, throughout the world, an estimated 2.5 billion people lack basic sanitation—which means they do not have access to toilets or safe latrines, or to services such as garbage collection and wastewater treatment and disposal. Without toilets or latrines, people who “need to go” have no other option than to relieve themselves on open land or in bodies of water. This can lead to contamination of a community’s drinking water source, making the water unsafe to drink.

CDC Partners Use Basket of Goods Approach in Kenya
A woman collecting water from a river in Kenya

PATH’s Safe Water Project recently launched its first pilot activity in Kenya to explore the potential for offering a ceramic water purifier (CWP) in a sales model designed for fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs). The basket-of-goods (BOG) model is a promising business model found in several African countries. The Safe Water and AIDS Project (SWAP) in Kenya uses the model to ensure that households in remote areas have access to low-cost, high-impact health products such as sanitary pads, soap, condoms, and water treatment solutions.

Typhoid Fever Targets Children from Kenyan Urban Slums
Boy standing in a slum in Kenya

About 200,000 people live in Kibera, a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi, Kenya, and the largest informal settlement in East Africa. With an estimated one-pit latrine for every 200 people, residents use plastic bags for relief and then dispose of them anywhere. This practice, known as ‘flying toilets’, is more common at night among women and children concerned about the area’s lack of security. Without sanitation facilities to contain and dispose of human feces, those living nearby are at risk for enteric diseases (those that cause diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting), such as typhoid fever.

Defeating Diarrhea: CDC and Partners Tackle Causes and Consequences in Kenya and Beyond

“What if we lost 50 city buses full of children today?” asks Michael Beach, the associate director for healthy water in CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases. “That’s 2,195 children—the number who die daily of diarrhea around the world. That’s more than die from AIDS, malaria, and measles combined.”

Safe water school interventions in Kenya save lives
Image of Two members of the safe water club at Sino SDA Primary School in Nyanza Province in rural Kenya treating the school drinking water with WaterGuard.

Over 1.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. Nearly two million children die each year due to diarrhea and other infectious diseases resulting from unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. To prevent these deaths, CDC and its partners developed the Safe Water System.

Safe water and HIV: Evidence-based integration
Image of Jemima, a Kenyan Woman Living With HIV

Over 1.1 billion people worldwide do not have access to safe drinking water. Nearly two million children die each year due to diarrhea and other infectious diseases resulting from unsafe drinking water, inadequate sanitation, and poor hygiene. To prevent these deaths, CDC and its partners developed the Safe Water System.

Christian Health Association of Kenya Collaborates with CDC in Safe Water
Handwashing station with plastic bucket containing a tap, metal stand, basin for catching water and soap.

Limited access to safe water in Nyanza and Western Provinces, Kenya is a major problem. Diarrhea rates in these regions are among the highest in Kenya. An inexpensive safe water system can reduce the risk of diarrhea from 25–85%.

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Basic public health actions rapidly mobilized to lessen impact of cholera in earthquake-devastated Haiti
Image of Haitian women with water bucket

When the January 2010 earthquake struck Haiti, the first priorities of Haitian public health officials and their partners, including CDC and USAID, were improving access to clean water and sanitation and promoting basic hygiene to protect Haitians from threats they faced living in crowded, temporary camps.

Training teaches Haitian health care workers: "No one need die from diarrheal disease"
Image of Haitian Health Care Workers in Room

When a cholera outbreak occurs in resource-limited countries like Haiti, where sanitary conditions are poor and safe water systems do not exist, public health officials must act quickly. A first request of CDC and partners was to help educate health care workers to manage cholera and teach Haitians how to prevent it.

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