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Hygiene and Sanitation

Even if good sanitation facilities are available, they are not enough to improve people?s health.

health and fitness Updated: Aug 23, 2003 18:15 IST

The safe disposal of human faeces - including those of children – is a prerequisite to protecting health. In the absence of basic sanitation, a number of major diseases are transmitted through faecal pollution of the household and community environment.

These include diarrhoea, schistosomiasis, hepatitis A and E, dysentery, cholera and typhoid fever. Lack of sanitation is also associated with infection with helminth and with trachoma. Trachoma causes irreversible blindness and today about 6 million people are visually impaired by this disease.

Globally, 2.4 billion people, most of them living in peri-urban or rural areas in developing countries, do not have access to any type of improved sanitation facilities Coverage estimates for 1990 and 2000 show that little progress was made during this period in improving this situation.

The lowest levels of facility coverage are found in Asia and Africa where 31% and 48% of the rural populations, respectively, do not have access to adequate sanitation facilities.

Even if good sanitation facilities are available, they are not always enough to improve people’s health. Children and adults must be encouraged to wash their hands with soap or ash before meals and after defecating.


First Published: Aug 23, 2003 18:15 IST