March 24th is World Tuberculosis Day--a day to remember how recently in human history the cause of this horrible disease was discovered, and to be reminded of how many people, largely in developing countries, still die from it.
March 24th commemorates the day in 1882 when Dr Robert Koch astounded the scientific community by announcing that he had discovered the cause of tuberculosis, the TB bacillus. At the time of Koch's announcement in Berlin, TB was raging through Europe and the Americas, causing the death of one out of every seven people. Koch's discovery opened the way towards diagnosing and curing TB.This week was also World Water Day. In the richer counties, it is easy to take clean, drinkable water for granted. That is, until something like the nuclear emergency in Japan threatens the surrounding water supply. However, a large fraction of the world's population in both urban and rural areas does not have ready access to clean water and this alone is an important contributor to poor health in many, if not, developing nations.