Widely Used Sanitation Programs Do Not Necessarily Improve Health
Atlanta, GA - A sanitation program currently being widely implemented in low-income communities in India significantly increases latrine coverage but does not actually improve health, a study involving 100 rural villages, published in The Lancet Global Health has found.
The sanitation intervention delivered under the terms of the Government of India’s Total Sanitation Campaign — the world’s largest sanitation initiative — provided almost 25,000 individuals in rural India with access to a latrine. It did not however, reduce exposure to faecal pathogens or decrease the occurrence of diarrhoea, parasitic worm infections, or child malnutrition.
“The program is effective in building latrines, but not all households participate,” explains lead author Professor Thomas Clasen from Emory University, Atlanta and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in the UK. “Moreover, many householders do not always use the latrines. This, combined with continued exposure from poor hygiene, contaminated water, and unsafe disposal of child faeces, may explain the lack of a health impact.”
Worldwide, around 2.5 billion people lack access to basic sanitation facilities such as a latrine, a third of whom live in India. Two-thirds of the 1.1 billion people who practise open defecation and a quarter of the 1.5 million who die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor hygiene and sanitation also live in India. Continue>
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