In­vest in san­i­ta­tion, get its re­turns on health

The Hindu Business Line - - PULSE -

The world will not reach the goal of univer­sal san­i­ta­tion cov­er­age, where ev­ery per­son in the world has ac­cess to toi­lets, by 2030 un­less coun­tries make com­pre­hen­sive pol­icy shifts and in­vest more funds, the World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion warned as it launched the first global guide­lines on san­i­ta­tion and health.

By adopt­ing WHO’s new guide­lines, coun­tries can sig­nif­i­cantly re­duce the 8,29,000 an­nual di­ar­rhoea-re­lated deaths due to un­safe wa­ter, san­i­ta­tion and hy­giene. For ev­ery $1 in­vested in san­i­ta­tion, WHO es­ti­mates a nearly six-fold re­turn as mea­sured by lower health costs, in­creased pro­duc­tiv­ity and fewer pre­ma­ture deaths.

World­wide, 2.3 bil­lion peo­ple lack ba­sic san­i­ta­tion (with al­most half forced to defe­cate in the open). They are among the 4.5 bil­lion are with­out ac­cess to safely man­aged san­i­ta­tion ser­vices — in other words a toi­let More toi­lets needed

con­nected to a sewer or pit or sep­tic tank that treats hu­man waste.

“With­out proper ac­cess, mil­lions of peo­ple the world over are de­prived of the dig­nity, safety and con­ve­nience of a de­cent toi­let,” said Dr Soumya Swami­nathan, WHO Deputy Di­rec­tor-Gen­eral for Pro­grammes.

Dr Maria Neira, Di­rec­tor, Depart­ment of Pub­lic Health, En­vi­ron­men­tal and So­cial Deter­mi­nants of Health, WHO said, “The transmission of a host of dis­eases, in­clud­ing cholera, di­ar­rhoea, dysen­tery, hepati­tis A, ty­phoid and po­lio, is linked to dirty wa­ter and in­ad­e­quately treated sewage. Poor san­i­ta­tion is also a ma­jor fac­tor in transmission of ne­glected trop­i­cal dis­eases such as in­testi­nal worms, schis­to­so­mi­a­sis and tra­choma, as well as con­tribut­ing to mal­nu­tri­tion.”

The guide­lines state that san­i­ta­tion in­ter­ven­tions should en­sure en­tire com­mu­ni­ties have ac­cess to toi­lets; the full san­i­ta­tion sys­tem should un­dergo lo­cal health risk as­sess­ments to pro­tect in­di­vid­u­als and com­mu­ni­ties from ex­po­sure re­sult­ing from un­safe toi­lets; san­i­ta­tion should be in­te­grated into reg­u­lar lo­cal Gov­ern­ment-led plan­ning to avert the higher costs as­so­ci­ated with retro-fit­ting san­i­ta­tion and to en­sure sus­tain­abil­ity. The health sec­tor should in­vest more and play a co­or­di­nat­ing role in san­i­ta­tion plan­ning to pro­tect pub­lic health.

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