Project Lead(s): Benjamin Hatton
There is an urgent need to enable and educate mothers and caregivers in poor communities with low-cost, easy home tests for bacteria in food, and for better education about food sanitation methods. In developing countries, foodborne bacteria are a significant cause of illness and death, especially for those with compromised or undeveloped immune systems, such as pregnant women and infants. Foodborne pathogenic bacteria such as Listeria, Campylobacter and Salmonella often cause birth defects, miscarriage and diarrhea, but do not have simple identification tests.
Diarrhea is a common illness associated with contaminated food, unsafe water, and bad sanitation, causing 1 in 9 child deaths worldwide. Treatments of oral rehydration therapy and antibiotics are in short supply, and the overuse of antibiotics is causing an emergence of resistant bacteria.
Starting with communities in squatter settlements around Alexandria, Egypt, innovators with the University of Toronto will:
- Develop a low-cost, fast, easy home test for bacteria detection in food/water,
- Test local and commonly available disinfectant products and methods for cleaning food preparation surfaces in very poor Egyptian communities,
- Conduct community outreach to teach food testing and surface cleaning awareness, and
- Establish an online tracking/surveillance database system for reporting diarrhea cases.