Unsafe drinking water a cause of concern: WHO 

Poor sanitation and contaminated water are linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid, claimed the report. 3, 61, 000 children under five years of age die due to diarrhoea, the WHO report stated.

Unsafe drinking water a cause of concern: WHO

According to a study done by World Health Organization (WHO) last week, 2.1 billion people lack safe drinking water at home. This roughly means that 3 out of 10 people worldwide lack safe drinking water and 6 out of 10 don’t have good sanitation facilities according to a new report by WHO and UNICEF.

Poor sanitation and contaminated water are also linked to transmission of diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, and typhoid, claimed the report. 3, 61, 000 children under five years of age die due to diarrhoea, the WHO report stated.

The Joint Monitoring programme (JMP) report, Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and Sustainable Development Goal baselines, presented its first global assessment of safe drinking water and sanitation services, available worldwide. However, the conclusion says that a lot of people still lack access to safe drinking water and sanitation, especially in rural areas.

“Safe water, sanitation and hygiene at home should not be a privilege of only those who are rich or live in urban areas,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, in the report. “These are some of the most basic requirements for human health, and all countries have a responsibility to ensure that everyone can access them.”

“Safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene are critical to the health of every child and every community – and thus are essential to building stronger, healthier, and more equitable societies,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

Given the figures worldwide, the condition back home isn’t very appealing either. A Lancet study conducted in June this year stated that 42 per cent of child deaths due to diarrhoea take place in India and Nigeria.

Recently, the Praja foundation released a ‘white paper’, which reported on the state of health in Mumbai. “32.9 per cent of diarrhoea deaths out of the total 225 deaths in 2016-17 are among children below four years of age,” said Milind Mhaske, project manager of Praja Foundation.

“Unsafe drinking water is a major factor here. Infected water causes loose motions and vomiting, which in turn is the reason for people to stop eating or drinking water. Lack of appetite causes dehydration which can prove to be lethal. Hence, if people come for timely treatment, these deaths can be averted,” said Dr Gautam Bhansali, practicing physician at Bombay Hospital.

“Diarrhoea is a bacterial infection caused due to contaminated water and food. To treat this, hygiene has to be intact. This can be as simple as washing your hands properly or having boiled water. Roadside food is a strict no-no,” said Dr. Vikrant Shah, general physician, Chembur’s Zen Hospital.

“As we improve these services in the most disadvantaged communities and for the most disadvantaged children today, we give them a fairer chance at a better tomorrow,” added Anthony Lake, UNICEF.

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • Many countries lack data on the quality of water and sanitation services. The report includes estimates for 96 countries on safely managed drinking water and 84 countries on safely managed sanitation.
  • In countries experiencing conflict or unrest, children are 4 times less likely to use basic water services, and 2 times less likely to use basic sanitation services than children in other countries.
  • There are big gaps in service between urban and rural areas. Two out of three people with safely managed drinking water and three out of five people with safely managed sanitation services live in urban areas. Of the 161 million people using untreated surface water (from lakes, rivers or irrigation channels); 150 million live in rural areas.

Source: WHO