On World Toilet Day, UN agencies call on countries to improve sanitation

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 19 2021 04:17 PM

Physical distancing markers and reminders are posted at a shopping mall in San Juan in this photo taken on June 16, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File
Physical distancing markers and reminders are posted at a shopping mall in San Juan in this photo taken on June 16, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — In this year's World Toilet Day celebration, the World Health Organization and United Nations Children's Fund on Friday urged countries to improve sanitation services "for better health, environments, economies and societies."

According to the latest joint monitoring program report of WHO and Unicef, progress on sanitation and hygiene is "badly off track."

"For the 3.6 billion people currently without safely managed sanitation, it’s clear there will be no sustainable future without toilets," the WHO said in a statement. "Governments must work 4 times faster and ensure toilets for all by 2030."

A report entitled "State of the World's Sanitation" released in July 2021 showed that 673 million people had no toilets at all and practiced open defecation.

An estimated 367 million school-age children attend schools without toilets while more than 10 percent of health-care facilities have no sanitation service, the report also showed. 

Sanitation, the UN agencies stressed, is vital to health, child development, and social and economic progress. 

In 2015, sanitation was recognized as a distinct right by the United Nations General Assembly.

According to the report, lack of safe sanitation leads to multiple negative outcomes. 

"It can cause illness and disease, particularly among children, such as diarrhea, worm infections and stunting," the report read.

The UN agencies said poor sanitation disproportionately affect the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, particularly women and people living with disabilities.

"Achieving universal access to safe sanitation will be expensive, but inaction brings even greater costs," the report read, adding strong government leadership at the highest level is key in achieving the goal.

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