An Ode to Poo

13 Sep 2017

Reya Shah, DTMH September 2017





I came prepared to learn tropical medicine

But wait, what’s this “H” you’ve added in?

HIV is a killer: this I knew

But wait, what’s this; a whole week about poo?!

This topic distasteful: diarrhoea and slime

To talk about it in public is essentially a crime


Histolytica, shigella, crypto, giardiasis 

Ascaris, trachoma, strongyloides, myiasis 

Vomiting and constantly defaecating houseflies

Every five minutes, the lecturer cries!

But I don’t understand how they find the time

A stool a day and my life is sublime


Faecal samples zooming around the microscope

But be careful, because how would you cope

With contamination, some amoebic dysentery

Or worse, a cholera pandemic, which in Liverpool hasn’t been

For nearly 200 years, but whilst to us unseen

Continues to be a plague for the poor

The most vulnerable, displaced, the victims of war


How many of thousands of E.coli 

In a community’s drinking water supply 

Will we tolerate? But if that was us

And our children at risk, would there be more fuss?

To build a ventilation improved pit latrine

But please ensure that it’s not too pristine!

Or it may be prettier than the peoples’ own homes

They use the toilet as a bicycle shed and roam

To defaecate, and thus the cycle goes on

The water is dirty; the battle’s not won 


Guinea worm, scabies and malaria

Yellow fever, Chagas and Filaria

All diseases abetted by filthy water

And the situation worsens as the world gets hotter

Reservoirs, transmissions and hosts

Control of these is what matters the most

So after this week, I’ve found hygiene’s place

Sanitation, safe water and disposal of waste

Is at the top of the ladder, alongside medicine 

To create a healthier, happier world we aspire to live in