A bag full of holes is a real life-saver

November 25, 2005

Millions of people in developing countries are forced to drink deadly cholera-ridden water every day to quench their thirst. But that could change thanks to an invention by a former academic from Southampton University.

Philip Monro left his post as a researcher in orthopaedics to concentrate on the development of his water and food purifier.

The product, which costs 4p to manufacture, is a bag with minuscule holes small enough to filter out dirt and bacteria - such as the cholera and typhoid bacteria - to produce drinkable water and food.

The invention, which Dr Monro developed with Michael Wilson from the Eastman Dental Institute at University College London, has been patented and should be available in Third World countries within two years.

Dr Monro said the idea was born when Professor Wilson was preparing a curry while watching a science programme on TV.

He said: "This will prevent millions of people from being infected with terrible deadly diseases. It will be ideal in the first few days after a disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina or the tsunami, when there has been a total breakdown in resources and infrastructure. It requires no local power or skill and can be used to feed babies rehydrated milk as well."

The product is in the final stages of scientific trials but has been admired by experts across the world. Andrew Tomkins, professor of international child health at UCL, said: "This project is of world importance to international child health."

jessica.shepherd@thes.co.uk

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