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Sunday, 16 April 2017

Giving the gift of water

 A doctor finds a way to focus on providing clean drinking water to the people. 

DR Rajiv Bhanot has gone against everyone’s advice and quit from the public hospital he was serving in when he stumbled on a technology that would change his life.

In fact, the water filtration technology, which until then has only been employed by the British military in Iraq and Afghanistan, is capable of changing the lives of 2.5 billion people around the world.

“Six years ago, I was working in the government hospital and I think life was becoming very monotonous.

“I made a decision to resign from government service which went against everybody’s advice. That’s when I stumbled upon this technology,” he said during an interview at the Global Transformation Forum 2017 in Kuala Lumpur recently.

The forum was a platform for influential leaders to share their experiences on how to drive transformation.

Ironically, Dr Rajiv, who would go on to lament about countries preferring to put away money for their armies instead of clean water, has come across the technology at a military expo.

“And it was by accident,” admitted the CEO of H2GO Global.

The technology, which Dr Rajiv demonstrated before a 3,000-strong audience at the forum, allows for dirty water to be harvested and converted into sterile drinking water.

According to the H2GO Global website, its NanoCarb cartridges is capable of filtering water down to a microscopic 15nm (nanometre).

As the smallest virus is 20nm, it claims to filter out all viruses, bacteria, cysts and parasites from contaminated water sources.

Better yet, this technology does not require the use of electricity, chlorination or chemical additives and the production costs works out to a miraculous two sen per litre.

That is definitely less than a 500ml bottle of water, which goes for around RM1 at convenience stores.

“I think that’s when it made me realise that this is something amazing that’s confined only to the military (and) why not bring it, redesign it and focus on people that actually need it?” said Dr Rajiv.

Today, the product comes in various designs to fit the community it serves – from one the size of a huge water tank to that of a backpack capable of serving a family.

H2GO has also recently launched a bottle version, which Dr Rajiv describes as “very, very exciting”.

“To us, it’s a solution to disaster relief operations. Right now, when you have a flood, people are surrounded by millions of litres of water but the biggest fundamental issue is they don’t have any clean water.

“So, governments have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year getting bottled water to these (flood) victims,” he said.

While it may boggle the mind that some 2.5 billion people continue to be without access to clean water and proper sanitation at this day and age, Dr Rajiv said having piped water to rural communities in very isolated parts of the world was hard.

He is, however, more shocked by what he calls “issues of funding” in certain countries.

“Because we seem to have funding to keep building up military bases and supplies all around the world but something as basic as water... ,” said Dr Rajiv, his words trailing off as he shrugged.

It is a humanitarian crisis that has not gotten the global attention it deserves because, he argues, it does not seem exciting enough as compared to, say, a gun attack.

“We have an individual who dies every nine seconds from water-related diseases (and) three and half million of people who die every year.

“(It’s) happening year after year. That’s double the population of Kuala Lumpur that gets wiped out because they don’t have any access to clean water,” he said.

“We believe that nobody should die from water poverty,” Dr Rajiv had told the audience during his session on Entrepreneurial Innovation: Small Ideas Can Be Transformational.

It’s been a transformative experience as well for a doctor who, on top of helping to ensure that clean water reach one-third of the world’s population, still maintains a clinic in aesthetics and anti-aging in Damansara Heights.

“If you talk to any of the inspiring leaders that we have seen at the forum so far, all of them have made their decisions for themselves and they are confident enough to stick by these without the need for their friends to validate them.

“If I needed validation from everyone around me, I would not have made the decision to leave the government hospital.”

For Dr Rajiv, going against everyone’s advice has certainly been worth it.

Tags / Keywords: Government , Pemandu , Global Transformation Forum , H2GO , Dr Rajiv Bhanot

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