With new water scandals popping up near daily, our congratulations to Professor Joan B. Rose for being awarded the 2016 Stockholm Water Prize for her tireless contributions to global public health; by assessing risks to human health in water and creating guidelines and tools for decision-makers and communities to improve global wellbeing. The prize was presented to Joan Rose by H.M. Carl XVI Gustaf, King of Sweden, during a ceremony in Stockholm City Hall during the World Water Week at the end of August.
Professor Rose said she believes the world’s greatest water challenge "is going to be the reversal of water quality problems around the world; the algal blooms in fresh water and coastal waters, and the pollution, not just associated with humans, but also with disease outbreaks among our wildlife, like amphibians and fish. I also think reconnecting water and food security will be a major challenge. We are starting to do it but it will definitely continue to be a challenge.”
In its citation, The Stockholm Water Prize Nominating Committee said that “The nexus of water-related microbiology, water quality and public health is rife with uncertainty – in both theory and practice. The world is blessed with few individuals who can tackle the increasing and changing challenges to clean water and health, starting from state-of-the-art science through dedicated and original research, then moving to professional dissemination, effective lobbying of the legislative arena, influencing practitioners, and raising the general awareness. Joan Rose is the leading example of this extremely rare blend of talents.”
After she received the Prize, Professor Rose said: “As an individual it is an honor and I am overflowing with gratitude. But it means even more, because it is a prize that honors water, it honors the blue planet and it honors the human condition. Therefore, I am very proud”.
Joan Rose is widely regarded as the world’s foremost authority on the microorganism Cryptosporidium. In 1993, the largest outbreak to date of the intestinal parasite Cryptosporidium affected more than 400 000 people in Milwaukee, US, who got sick from contaminated drinking water. 69 people died in the outbreak. Cryptosporidium, which exists in both humans and animals, cannot be killed by chlorine, and lives for several months.
Professor Rose and her team, whom she calls “water detectives” investigate waterborne disease outbreaks globally, to determine how they can be stopped, and prevented. She was the first person to present the widespread occurrence of Cryptosporidium in water supplies in 1988.
“More than two billion people still lack adequate sanitation, and over one billion lack access to safe drinking water. Hundreds of thousands of deaths from diarrhoeal diseases each year could be prevented by improved water, sanitation and hygiene. Joan Rose, our water hero, is a beacon of light in the quest for securing a better, healthier life for this and future generations,” said SIWI’s Executive Director Torgny Holmgren.
The Stockholm Water Prize is a global award founded in 1991 and presented annually by Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) to an individual, organization or institution for outstanding water-related achievements. H.M. King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden is patron of the prize.