Lack of sanitation for 2.4 billion people undermines health improvements

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The French Red Cross provides water, sanitation and toilets for 11,000 IDPs at the Centre d’Hebergement Provisoire Automica Dahaitsu in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. MINUSTAH File Photo.

Child survival and health benefits linked to safe drinking water could be underlined by a lack of progress on sanitation.

The warning comes from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).

The agencies are releasing a joint report on Tuesday which tracks access to drinking water and sanitation against the Millennium Development Goals.

Stephanie Coutrix has more.

The report finds that worldwide, 1 in 3 people, or 2.4 billion, are still without sanitation facilities, including 946 million people who defecate in the open.

UNICEF said the data shows that focusing on inequalities is the only way to achieve sustainable progress.

It also underlines that the global model has so far been that the wealthiest move ahead first, and only when they have access do the poorest start catching up. 

Meanwhile, access to improved drinking water sources has been a major achievement for the international community according to the children's organization, with some 2.6 billion people having gained access since 1990.

That's 91 per cent of the global population. 

Child survival gains have also reportedly been substantial with fewer than 1,000 children under five dying each day from diarrhoea caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene.

This is compared to over 2,000 child deaths 15 years ago. 

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration: 1’05″

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