Published: Thu, November 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Gates hopes to flush away hygiene woes with new loo

Gates hopes to flush away hygiene woes with new loo

"It's a good reminder that in (the jar) there could be 200 trillion rotavirus cells, 20 billion Shigella bacteria, and 100,000 parasitic worm eggs", he said.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has invested more than $US200 million ($277 million) over seven years to create a "pathogen-killing" toilet that can break down human waste and destroy germs.

"Today, rich countries have a sewage system where you bring water in, put the human waste in it and it goes out to all the way to a treatment processing plant", Gates told CNN.

Lack of clean sanitation comes at a staggering financial cost - The Gates Foundation estimates $223 billion a year in the form of higher health-care spending and lost productivity and wages. "And I definitely never thought that Melinda would have to tell me to stop talking about toilets and fecal sludge at the dinner table".

The three-day event took place in China, where President Xi Jinping has made the "toilet revolution" a key priority. According to gates, new approaches to sterilization of human waste can help prevent almost 500,000 infant deaths and save almost $233 billion a year allocated to the fight against diarrhea, cholera and other diseases, which are caused by contaminated water, poor sanitation and problems with personal hygiene.

"This expo showcases, for the first time, radically new, decentralized sanitation technologies and products that are business-ready", said Gates during the opening plenary of the Reinvented Toilet Expo."It's no longer a question of if we can reinvent the toilet and other sanitation systems".

There are multiple designs of the toilet, but all work by separating liquid and solid waste.

"China has an opportunity to launch a new category of innovated non-sewered sanitation solutions that will benefit millions of people worldwide". "As we have all these newer cities with lots of less wealthy people in them, those sewers have not been built and in fact, it's not likely they will ever be, so the question is, could you do it?"

The stunt, of course, was to underline the very worthy need to deal with raw human waste.

The Gates Foundation hopes to instal reinvented toilets in schools and apartment buildings until they become cheap enough for individual families to afford.

"The problem will get worse if we don't do something about it", said Mr Gates.

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