From computer innovations, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has refocused his attention on sanitary concerns, which he believes is the key to eliminate diseases that wipe out millions of people around the world each year.
And the best way to start, according to Mr Gates, is to reinvent one of the most basic needs of man - a working toilet that would prove useful even in the worst possible situation.
For this purpose, the charitable foundation run by Mr Gates with his wife, Melinda, launched the 'Reinvent the Toilet Fair' last year, which the billionaire philanthropist said, was meant to lure inventors into rethinking 'the seat' that is part of their everyday lives.
The main goal of the 'toilet competition', which the former Microsoft CEO said had attracted some 200 participants, was to come up with radical redesigns of the foremost hygienic tool that promotes "safe, effective, and inexpensive waste management systems."
In a statement the tech icon has recently posted on thegatesnotes.com, Mr Gates called attention on 'the seat' regularly used by billions, the importance of which seemed to have been lost in the developed world because it was always there and readily available when nature calls.
"Toilets are extremely important for public health and, when you think of it, even human dignity," Mr Gates was quoted by Agence France Presse (AFP) as saying on Wednesday.
Sadly though, the same is not true for the rest of the world, about half of it actually, he noted, which are still struggling to access this basic human necessity.
And even when one is available in a poor country, Mr Gates said, it was almost automatic that conditions surrounding the toilet were even too far from the lowest expectations of health experts.
Fact is people in impoverished nations "often don't have access to water, and sewers, electricity, and sewage treatment systems," Mr Gates shared.
"The flush toilets we use in the wealthy world are irrelevant, impractical and impossible for 40 percent of the global population," he added.
Data obtained by the Gates Foundation showed that up to 40 per cent of the global population, or roughly 2.5 billion people were still denied of safe facilities to handle and dispose off human wastes.
"Beyond a question of human dignity, this lack of access also endangers people's lives, creates an economic and a health burden for poor communities, and hurts the environment," Mr Gates further explained.
And due to what looked like as governments' simple oversight, millions die due to diseases directly attributed to unsanitary environment that they were left to make do with and the most alarming component buried in the statistics, Mr Gates noted, is most of the fatalities were helpless children.
Considered as one of the pillars of the tech world, Mr Gates is firmly convinced that "inventing new toilets is one of the most important things we can do to reduce child deaths and disease and improve people's lives."
Even the developed world should benefit from the toilet redesigns that the Gates Foundation has presented Tuesday in Seattle, Washington, especially the ones that do away with the use of water in flushing body wastes down the sewers, the tech icon pointed out.
"(They) can help wealthier countries conserve fresh water for other important purposes besides flushing," Mr Gates said.
Of the 200 submissions, three designs by universities from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada went home with the major prizes, AFP said.
The Gates Foundation named the California Institute of Technology for the top plum with its entry of a solar-fuelled toilet that also creates electricity and hydrogen gas.
Second and third places were given out to UK and Canadian universities respectively, which have engineered toilets that recover water and minerals while at the same time either sanitising or converting human wastes into charcoal, the news agency reported.
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