New Delhi: Inadequate sanitation has an adverse impact on health and economies of South-East Asian countries, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on the eve of World Toilet Day.
Regional Director for WHO in South-East Asia, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh asked the stakeholders to learn from the current Ebola crisis in West Africa and urged them to work together and make sanitation for all a reality.
The United Nations-sponsored World Toilet Day is celebrated every year on November 19.
"Every dollar spent on sanitation yields about USD 9 in savings on treatment, health-care costs and gains from more productive days. The current Ebola crisis in West Africa demonstrates the enormous importance of adequate sanitation, water and hygiene services in preventing disease outbreaks and infection control. We must learn from this tragic crisis," Singh said in statement issued today.
A major study on 2006 data estimated, that in India, inadequate sanitation amounted to a loss equivalent to about 6.4 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP)--greater than the GDP of all but five of the states in India. These losses and economic impacts disproportionately affect the poor.
A recent WHO study indicates that in 2012 in South-East Asia region, 1,23,300 diarrhoea deaths were estimated to be caused by inadequate sanitation and 1,31,500 by inadequate hand-washing practices.
Good sanitation contributes hugely to poverty reduction and enhances the security and well being of women and girls, she said, adding that in 1990, only 25 per cent of the population of the region had access to improved sanitation.
"The countries in the Region have put in immense efforts to meet the MDG sanitation targets and by 2012, the proportion of the Region's population with access to improved sanitation had risen to 45 per cent. However, the region is likely to miss its MDG on sanitation," Singh said.