Will Nanotechnology Be Used To Help People In Developing Countries

The applications of nanotechnology will certainly benefit all the developed countries. But will this new technology help the developing countries—those nations that have limited resources and whose people live in poor conditions? To answer the question, the Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health (CPGGH) has a plan to assist those developing countries.

The GPGGH is a leading international group that studies nan-otechnology applications. They advocate that nanotechnology applications will help people in developing countries tackle their most urgent problems. Some of these problems include extreme poverty and hunger, child mortality, environmental degradation, and diseases, such as malaria and HIV/AIDS.

The goals of the CPGGH identified and ranked several nanotechnol-ogy applications most likely to have an impact in the developing world. The top five nanotechnology applications on the list included:

1. Energy storage, production, and conversion

2. Agricultural productivity enhancement

3. Water treatment and remediation—cleaning up waste sites

4. Disease diagnosis and screening

5. Drug delivery systems

The CPGGH group selected energy as the number one priority in nan-otechnology applications to assist developing countries. They included energy production, conversion and storage, along with creation ofalter-native fuels, as the energy areas where nanotechnology applications are most likely to benefit developing countries.

Number two on the list is agriculture. They state that science can be used to develop a range of inexpensive nanotech applications to increase soil fertility and crop production, and help eliminate malnutrition. Malnutrition is a contributor to more than half the deaths of children under five in developing countries. Other agricultural developments include nanosensors to monitor the health of crops and farm animals and magnetic nanoparticles to remove soil contaminants.

Water treatment is third-ranked by the panel. One-sixth of the world's population lacks access to safe water supplies, according to their study group. More than one-third of the population of rural areas in Africa, Asia, and Latin America has no clean water. Two million children die each year from water-related diseases, such as diarrhea, cholera, typhoid, and schistosomiasis, which result from a lack of adequate water sources and sanitation. Nanomembranes and nanoclays are inexpensive, portable, and easily cleaned systems that purify, detoxify, and desalinate water more efficiently than conventional bacterial and viral filters. These water treatment processes could provide potable water for families and communities.

Disease diagnosis and screening was ranked fourth. Some of these technologies include inexpensive, handheld diagnostic kits that detect the presence of several pathogens at once and could be used for wide-range screening in small clinics.

Drug delivery system was fifth on the list. Nanotechnology could improve transportation costs by developing drugs to last longer in storage. Most drugs today have a short shelf life because of changes in humidity and temperature change in storage rooms.

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