Dirty wa­ter stunts mil­lions of chil­dren

The Myanmar Times - - World -

IN­DIA is home to the world’s largest num­ber of stunted chil­dren be­cause of a lack of toi­lets, dirty wa­ter and poor hy­giene, ac­cord­ing to a new study pub­lished yes­ter­day.

De­spite high eco­nomic growth in re­cent years, In­dia has more stunted chil­dren than Nige­ria, Pak­istan, China and the Repub­lic of Congo com­bined, with 48 mil­lion un­der the age of five – about 30 per­cent of the global to­tal, a Wat­erAid study has found.

Stunt­ing is a form of mal­nu­tri­tion in which chil­dren are shorter than nor­mal for their age and is largely ir­re­versible af­ter the age of two.

If they sur­vive, they grow up phys­i­cally and in­tel­lec­tu­ally weaker than their bet­ter-fed peers.

Wat­erAid says a lack of toi­lets and clean wa­ter are caus­ing high lev­els of stunt­ing in In­dia.

That is be­cause high rates of open defe­ca­tion lead to con­tam­i­na­tion that can spread dis­ease and in­fec­tion.

Data col­lated by Wat­erAid showed that 140,000 chil­dren die ev­ery year from di­ar­rhoea in In­dia, while 76 mil­lion do not have ac­cess to safe wa­ter and 774 mil­lion live with­out ad­e­quate san­i­ta­tion.

“In­dia has the high­est num­ber of peo­ple in the world ... prac­tis­ing open defe­ca­tion, which spreads deadly dis­eases and makes chil­dren more sus­cep­ti­ble to di­ar­rhoea and other in­fec­tions,” said Me­gan Wil­son-Jones, Wat­erAid health and hy­giene an­a­lyst.

“So it is no sur­prise that so many chil­dren in In­dia suf­fer from stunted growth,” she added.

Open defe­ca­tion has long been a

ma­jor health and san­i­ta­tion prob­lem in In­dia, where al­most 594 mil­lion peo­ple – nearly half the pop­u­la­tion – defe­cate in the open, ac­cord­ing to Unicef.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has stressed the need to clean up In­dia since storm­ing to power in 2014 and has re­peat­edly urged ev­ery house­hold to have a toi­let within four years to end the spread of dis­ease.

Nige­ria ranked sec­ond with 10.3 mil­lion stunted chil­dren while Pak­istan stood third in Wat­erAid’s study with 9.9 mil­lion.

Im­pov­er­ished Bangladesh fared bet­ter than its big­ger, wealth­ier neigh­bour In­dia, record­ing 5.5 mil­lion cases in its 160 mil­lion-strong pop­u­la­tion.

The coun­try has al­most elim­i­nated open defe­ca­tion in just over a decade.

A mal­nour­ished In­dian child stays at the Nu­tri­tional Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre in Darb­hanga, Bi­har.

Photo: AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Myanmar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.