The World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched the first global guidelines on sanitation and health even as it pitched for higher investments and policy shifts to achieve the goal of universal sanitation coverage by 2032.
According to an official statement from the WHO, ‘By adopting WHO’s new guidelines, countries can significantly reduce the 829, 000 annual diarrhoeal deaths due to unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene. For every US $1 invested in sanitation, WHO estimates a nearly six-fold return as measured by lower health costs, increased productivity and fewer premature deaths’.
Taking note of India’s move of taking the “challenge of ending open defecation to the highest level,” the WHO said that under the Prime Minister’s (Narendra Modi) leadership, the SBM (Clean India Programme) is coordinating action across many sectors to ensure basic sanitation rapidly reaches and improves the lives of millions.
Senegal was another country which, the WHO appreciated for recognising “the role of pit latrines and septic tanks in ensuring services for all.”
The new WHO guidelines set out four principal recommendations including sanitation interventions to ensure entire communities have access to toilets that safely contain excreta. “The full sanitation system should be undergo local health risk assessments to protect individuals and communities from exposure to excreta — whether this be from unsafe toilets, leaking storage or inadequate treatment,” it said.
“Without proper access, millions of people the world over are deprived of the dignity, safety and convenience of a decent toilet,” said Dr Soumya Swaminathan, Deputy Director-General for Programmes, WHO.