Sun, Aug 12th, 2012
Dhaka– International development organisations have called upon the UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Brazil’s Vice President Michel Temer to acknowledge safe water, toilet and soap ‘vital’ for tackling child malnutrition at Sunday’s London Hunger Summit.
Water Supply and Sanitation and Collaborative Council (WSSCC), End Water Poverty (EWP) and WASH Advocates made the call in a letter welcoming the Summit being hosted to cash in on the global attention on the handover of the Olympics by London to Rio.
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina is in London to attend the Summit.
According to the WSSCC website, the letter urged the leaders to acknowledge and address the ‘crucial and devastating’ impact of lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene in the way of overcoming child malnutrition.
The World Health Organisation estimates that repeated bouts of diarrhoea and nematode infections cause up to 50 percent of childhood under-nutrition in the world where thousands of children are dying every day because of lack of clean water, safe toilets and hygiene.
“Making sure that children have access to a clean toilet, that they have clean water to drink, and that they wash their hands with soap can make a massive difference to the almost one in three of the world’s poorest children currently unable to reach their full potential due to malnutrition,” it said.
“Why put more calories into hungry young bodies if those calories are squandered by preventable waterborne diarrheal disease?” asked John Oldfield, CEO at WASH Advocates.
“It is estimated that on any given day, patients with diseases related to water and sanitation fill half of the hospital beds in the developing world. This is solvable.”
Amanda Marlin, Acting Executive Director at WSSCC said, “It is really quite simple: we can’t afford to waste the food we’ve got.”
Sarah Blakemore, International Coordinator for End Water Poverty, said improvements to sanitation also offered great value for money.
“A pound invested in better toilets can yield a return of around £5.50 in terms of improved productivity and reduced health care costs.”
The letter also noted that there was already increased political attention being paid to environmental causes of poor health.
It referred to the Sanitation and Water for All High Level Meeting in Washington in April 2012 where ministerial delegations from almost 40 developing countries and major donors pledged to improve water, sanitation and hygiene situation by 2015.
According to Bangladesh Demographic and Health Survey, 36 percent under-5 children are underweight, 41 percent stunted and 16 percent too thin for their height.