2011 – Life Without Disability

Professor Richard Walker has been undertaking research Tanzania for more than 15 years. During this time he has undertaken a number of projects to help patients with stroke, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy, whenever possible devising local treatments which do not depend on expensive drug regimes.

In Tanzania, where people have to pay for their for hospital treatment, it soon becomes a financial burden to the family when patients require constant medication to control their illness.

One of the villages that Professor Walker visited had a large number of children who were disabled because of high fluoride content in the water, which caused weak bone structure and bent legs. He teamed up with James Shorter, an engineering PH.D student from Newcastle university and a solution was found.

A charcoal furnace was built, and a mixture of animal bones was burnt to create bone char, which became a very effective filter to remove the excess fluoride from the water. On a return visit to the village, Professor Walker was delighted to find that the children born after the introduction of the filter had healthy straight bones. It may be a simple solution, but it has enabled the children of Tindigani village to look forward to a future without disability.