A recent study has found that improvement in sanitation and sewerage can drastically contribute towards reducing cholera and other diarrhoel diseases in developing countries.
The study, which comes ahead of the International Year of Sanitation 2008, will be launched at the United National Headquarter on 21 November 2007. It involved 1,000 children under the age of three years.
The World Health Organization states that the number of cholera cases during 2006 was 236,896, with 6,311 deaths in 52 countries and a rise of 79 percent on the previous year.
The Millennium Development Goals have set a target of burning the data to half the number of people bared of basic sanitation by 2015. However the ground realities find the set target tough, as the resources allocating it are very minimal and the absence of rigorous evidence for its effectiveness in prevention of disease.
Talking of the 1997 in which the city of Brazil implemented Bahia Azul, a city-wide sanitation project which aimed to increase the number of households with an adequate sewer system from 26 percent to 80 percent, including extending the sewerage network, improving water supply and capacity-building in ten smaller towns in the state. The researchers also examined the effect of health sanitation programs in lieu of reducing cases of diarrhea, and found that entire occurrence of diarrhoea fell by 22 percent.
However, in high-risk areas, where sanitary conditions were poorest, overall prevalence fell by double this amount, down 43 percent, despite lower than average requests by households for sewer connections. 'These results show clearly that city-wide sanitation is effective at combating diarrhoea and related diseases, Importantly, they show that it has the biggest effect in the poorest areas, where sanitation - and hence, disease - is worst. Sanitation can be seen as being an equitable approach to tackling a major health problem,' Lancet quoted Professor Mauricio Barreto from the Federal University of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
The researchers also feel that more and more sanitation programs should be carried out by international organizations and central government. 'It's usually up to the consumer to pay for sanitation, installing flush toilets, septic tanks and so on, however, there are limits to what can be achieved by individual households alone, especially when what is needed is not household toilets, which are already common, but sewers,' Prof Barreto said.
'At a typical cost of US$160 per person, cash-strapped municipalities cannot afford to invest in sewerage systems. International aid agencies and central government must take action to help tackle this serious health problem,' he added.
The research, co-funded by the Welcome Trust, is published the journal 'The Lancet.'