A lifesaving invention by a Northumberland scientist is being championed by former US president Bill Clinton.
Dr Phil Souter developed a way of purifying dirty water which is saving millions from disease in countries torn apart by war and famine.
The chemical sachet was developed by the senior scientist for Procter and Gamble at the company’s Innovation Centre in Longbenton, North Tyneside, and when mixed with dirty water can, remarkably, remove all dirt and kill harmful bacteria and viruses.
Earlier this month, the former American premier visited Kanombe school in Rwanda with his daughter Chelsea and the charity World Vision to see the P&G Purifier of Water.
The company is teaming up with Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) to provide clean water to the people in the world who need it most.
The Commitment to Action drive is seeing the company use Dr Souter’s invention to save a life every hour by 2020 by getting two billion litres of drinking water to developing countries every year.
The 66-year-old former world leader said: “Let me say how grateful I am to both P&G, one of the greatest companies in the world in terms of its responsibilities to society and building into their business model lifting lives of people, and to World Vision, one of the great treasures of NGOs, and the fact that they’re doing this together means a lot to me.”
He added: “It is one of the simplest things we can do to save lives.”
Dr Souter, who continues to work on Tyneside and lives at Longhorsley in Northumberland, said the endorsement of such a high-profile figure is a source of great pride.
He said: “I’m immensely proud to see President Clinton supporting the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water campaign. It’s amazing to see just how far the science I worked on here in Newcastle has travelled and the difference it is making in so many people’s lives.
“Our programme has now delivered six billion litres of clean drinking water using the P&G purification technology we developed here in Newcastle and that, with the endorsement of a former President of the United States, is something we’re all incredibly proud of at P&G’s Newcastle Innovation Centre. We started out working to understand how we could provide a technology to reuse the soapy water at the end of a laundry cycle. I had no idea then that my work might help to improve the lives of millions of people and attract praise from President Clinton.
“It’s an amazing story that I’m very proud of. It just goes to show the power of science and innovation to improve lives.
“We’re all very excited by President Clinton’s involvement. Having someone like that support our campaign has great potential to raise awareness of the global clean drinking water crisis and the programme we have to help combat it.
“The company has set a goal to provide enough sachets of our P&G Purification technology each year - roughly two million litres of clean water - to save one life every hour by 2020 and, seeing support from the likes of President Clinton, I know we can achieve it.”