UN: 2.4 billion people worldwide still lack basic sanitation
Nov 19, NY: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is using World Toilet Day on Thursday to spotlight one of the least talked about and most important contributors to disease and malnutrition: poor sanitation and hygiene that affect about a third of the world's population.
United Nations record shows that 2.4 billion people lack adequate sanitation and nearly one billion have no toilet facilities and are forced to relieve themselves in open areas.
The U.N. Millennium Development Goals, which are supposed to be achieved this year, call for cutting in half the proportion of the population without access to basic sanitation. That's why the U.N. launched a "Call to Action on Sanitation" in 2013 and aims to end "open defecation" by 2025, Ban said.
Access to adequate water, sanitation and hygiene is critical in the prevention and care of 16 of the 17 'neglected tropical diseases' (NTDs), including trachoma, soil-transmitted helminths (intestinal worms) and schistosomiasis. NTDs affect more than 1.5 billion people in 149 countries, causing blindness, disfigurement, permanent disability and death.
And the practice of open defecation is linked to a higher risk of stunting – or chronic malnutrition – which affects 161 million children worldwide, leaving them with irreversible physical and cognitive damage, WHO said.
The Oslo Times