New Delhi: The United Nations Children`s Fund (Unicef) Tuesday stressed the urgent need for India, the first among 12 countries where open defecation takes place, to check and curb the practice and reduce the high rate of water-borne disease in rural communities.According to the recently released Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) by World Health Organisation (WHO) and Unicef, about 626 million people or nearly 51 percent of the population in India still defecate in the open."The message of hygiene and sanitation needs more priority, particularly in rural areas. Efforts to curb the habit of open defecation should be instilled among the common man, as it is a major public health concern," said Unicef-India water and sanitation specialist Aidan Cronin.
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