Monday January 22, 2018

More than 2 Billion People Lack Safe Water and Sanitation: Report

The United Nations reports nearly 850,000 people die every year from lack of access to good water, sanitation and hygiene

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sanitation-related sources
In this May 30, 2016 photo, Bangladeshi volunteers, working to spread awareness on sanitation, lift toilet seats in Bormi village, near Dhaka, Bangladesh. VOA
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  • WHO Coordinator for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, Bruce Gordon says this report is the first to assess the importance of hygiene to good health
  • The SDGs are calling for an end to open defecation, which perpetuates a vicious cycle of disease and poverty

Geneva, July 12, 2017: A new report finds more than two billion people lack access to safe drinking water and more than twice that number or 4.5 billion people lack safe sanitation. The report by the World Health Organization and U.N. Children’s Fund is the first global assessment of water, sanitation, and hygiene for the Sustainable Development Goals.

The United Nations reports nearly 850,000 people die every year from lack of access to good water, sanitation and hygiene. This includes more than 360,000 children under age five who die from diarrhea and many others from diseases such as cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A and typhoid.

ALSO READ: 40 Million Death Per Year Due to Non Communicable Disease : WHO

The joint report by the World Health Organization and U.N. Children’s Fund finds people living in rural areas in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia are most at risk of disease and death from poor water and sanitation-related sources.

WHO Coordinator for Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, Bruce Gordon says this report is the first to assess the importance of hygiene to good health. He says many homes, healthcare facilities, and schools have no soap and water for handwashing.

“The one figure I would kind of like to emphasize here is that in sub-Saharan Africa, 15 percent of the population only has access to a hand-washing facility with soap and water,” he said. “And, as we know, good hygiene is one of the simplest and most effective ways to stop the spread of disease.”

One of the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals calls for universal and equitable access to safe water and sanitation for all by 2030. UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene, Sanjay Wijesekera says such progress would have a knock-on effect on other development areas.

“For children, access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene not only keeps them alive and healthy, but it gives them a chance to go to school and gain an education. It reduces inequality … and it just gives them a fair start to life,” said Wijesekera.

The SDGs are calling for an end to open defecation, which perpetuates a vicious cycle of disease and poverty. Open defecation is practiced by more than 890 million people, mainly in rural areas, who have no toilet or latrine. (VOA)

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Experts Say Measles Victims Dropped Below 100,000 in 2016

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Measles Victims Dropped
Foriza Begum, background, a newly arrived Rohingya Muslim from Myanmar, reacts to her daughter Nosmin Fatima's scream as she receives a vaccination to prevent measles and rubella at a makeshift medical center in Teknaf, Bangladesh. VOA
  • Latest reports of WHO, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped.
  • As per experts, a number of people who died from measles in 2016 were about 90,000, compared to 550,000 in 2000.

The World Health Organization, UNICEF, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say the rate of deaths from measles has dropped 84 percent since the beginning of a global vaccination campaign in 2000.

Experts say the number of people who died from the disease in 2016 was about 90,000, compared to more than 550,000 deaths in 2000. This marks the first time that worldwide measles deaths have fallen to less than 100,000 per year.

Robert Linkins, of the Measles and Rubella Initiative at the CDC, said in a statement that “saving an average of 1.3 million lives per year through vaccine is an incredible achievement and makes a world free of measles seem possible, even probable, in our lifetime.”

Since 2000, some 5.5 billion doses of measles vaccine have been administered to children through routine immunization services and mass vaccination campaigns. The disease is contagious through air particles and can spread quickly. The disease kills more people every year than any other vaccine-preventable disease.

But the WHO says the world is still far from reaching regional measles elimination goals. Since 2009, officials have managed to deliver a first dose of the vaccine to 85 percent of the babies who need it, but there has been no improvement in that rate in eight years. And only 64 percent of the affected population has gotten the second dose, which comes when a child is four or five years old.

The WHO says “far too many children” — about 20.8 million — have not had their first vaccine dose. Most of those children live in Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The disease puts children at risk of developing complications such as pneumonia, diarrhea, encephalitis, and blindness.(VOA)