One out of every five children who die of diarrhoea worldwide is an Indian.
Minister for Rural Development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh Tuesday said that every day around 1,000 children die of diarrhoea in India, which means 41 children lose their lives every 60 minutes.
"Globally, some 1.8 million children die each year as a result of diarrhoea, which means 4,900 deaths every day. In India, close to 1,000 children die every day," Singh said.
The minister was speaking at the second International Learning Exchange (ILE) programme on water, sanitation and hygiene here.
Quoting a United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) report on the disease, he said: "Deaths from diarrhoea in 2004 were some six times greater than the average annual deaths in armed conflicts globally."
Asked about the current outbreak of cholera in Orissa, in which over 150 people have lost their lives, the minister said: "We had sent a central team to assess the situation and their report will be assessed thoroughly."
He, however, said that the Total Sanitation Campaign of his ministry has yielded desired results in the last three years.
"Currently, 90 percent of our population has access to safe drinking water and 49 percent has access to toilets. We hope, India will achieve the Millennium Development Goal in the field of sanitation before 2015," Singh said.
"In 1981, only one percent of our population had access to toilets, and the percentage rose to 22 in 2001. Currently, 49 percent of our people are using toilets and it is certainly a move in the direction of better sanitation," he added.
The event organised by the government of India and Unicef aims at sharing India's achievement in this field with around 20 countries.
Over 80 delegates from 20 countries, including Bangladesh, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Djibouti, Sudan, Yemen, Egypt, Ethiopia and Japan, will visit eight states over the next nine days to get a first hand experience of the development taking place in the country.