Billions of people still have no proper toilet: UN

March 21st, 2008 - 12:24 am ICT by admin  

Geneva, March 20 (DPA) An estimated 2.6 billion people worldwide, including 980 million children, still have no access to a proper toilet, increasing the risk of contracting disease, a UN report said Thursday. In Africa alone, six out of ten people were deprived of proper sanitary facilities.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, speaking ahead of Saturday’s World Water Day, said sanitation was a cornerstone of public health.

She said: “Improved sanitation contributes enormously to human health and well being, especially for girls and women. We know that simple, achievable interventions can reduce the risk of contracting diarrhoeal disease by a third.”

Poor sanitary facilities exacerbated the transfer of disease through bacteria, viruses and parasites. It was a major cause of diarrhoea, the second biggest killer of children in developing countries.

Executive director of the UN children’s agency Unicef, Ann Veneman said: “The absence of adequate sanitation has a serious impact on health and social development, especially for children.”

WHO and UNICEF estimated that while 1.2 billion people worldwide gained access to improved sanitation between 1990 and 2004, there would probably still be around 2.4 billion people without basic sanitation in 2015.

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