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Swachh Bharat Mission can avert up to 3 lakh deaths: WHO

NEW DELHI

Lauding India’s effort towards safe sanitation services, World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday said that Swachh Bharat Mission can avert up to 3 lakh deaths due to diarrhea and protein-energy malnutrition (PEM) by October 2019.

“As the initial results of a WHO modelling study on the health impact of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) outline, India’s accelerated coverage of safe sanitation services, and its determination to end open defecation, will have a substantial effect on the burden of diarrheal disease and PEM by reducing mortality and accumulative Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs),” said WHO quoting Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director for South-East Asia.

According to WHO, the Swachh Bharat Mission could result in over 14 million more years of healthy life in the period measured, with the benefits accruing yearly thereafter.

“That is especially remarkable given that before 2014 unsafe sanitation caused an estimated 199 million cases of diarrhea annually, with modelling showing the problem will almost be eliminated when universal use of safe sanitation facilities is achieved,” she added.

According to ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, sanitation coverage in rural India, under the Swachh Bharat Mission rose to 85 per cent with 7.4 crore toilets built across rural India.As a result over 3.8 lakh villages and 391 districts were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) this year.

“India pursues WHO South-East Asia’s Flagship Priorities and strives to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals, including Sustainable Development Goal 6, which obliges countries to ensure access to safe water and sanitation for all, and Sustainable Development Goal 3, which obliges them to ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages,” Singh said.

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