Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Towards the Integrated Improvement of Hygiene and Health

“The right to water and sanitation ensures everyone the right to access safe drinking water in sufficient and acceptable quantities, physically accessible and affordable as well as sanitation”, stated Corinne Schuster-Wallace, Programme Officer for Water Nexus Health, during the session organised by WHO on the subject. “Each country develops its own strategy on sanitation. It is necessary to integrate policies at a regional level and in research. This also includes field work, analysis and results.” 

Since 1990, 1.8 billion people have had access to improved sanitation facilities. But 2.5 billion people still lack sanitation. 1.1 billion human beings, or 15% of the world’s population practice open defecation. China and Indiaaccount for nearly half of global progress in sanitation. Sub – Saharan Africa represents more than 40% of the world’s population that lacks the access to supplying resources of improved drinking water (which protects up to a satisfactory level the water from outside contamination, especially from faeces). This is one of the main tools for the fight against diseases, especially cholera. For Thierry Vandevelde, from Veolia Foundation, an improvedcoordination of projects in the countries affected by cholera, and the joint development of strategic plans could help eradicate this horrible disease, with Africa having 80% of the cases.

Change of mentalities 

Another direction, indicated by Piers Cross, from the Water and Sanitation for All organisation, is the cooperation between education and the health sector. In all cases, the sanitation problems can be solvedby “a regional and global cooperation”.  

Margaret Montgomery, expert in water sanitation, hygiene and health at the WHO, offered details on the functioning of health centers in Kenya. “We provide them with money to buy the required material for promoting hygiene measures among the patients of the center”, she mentioned. “Behavioral changes in hygiene should be promoted starting from the base.”
6th World Water Forum 

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