No. of kids who die daily from diarrhea can fill up 90 buses: UNICEF

Posted at 03/22/2013 4:53 PM | Updated as of 03/22/2013 4:57 PM

24 million Pinoys don't have good sanitation facilities

MANILA, Philippines -- The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said an estimated 2,000 children below 5 years old worldwide die every day from diarrhoeal diseases, with almost 90% or 1,800 deaths directly linked to contaminated water, lack of sanitation or inadequate hygiene.

The reminder comes as the world celebrates World Water Day today.

“Sometimes we focus so much on the big numbers that we fail to see the human tragedies that underlie each statistic,” said Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme, in a statement.
 
“If 90 school buses filled with kindergartners were to crash every day, with no survivors, the world would take notice. But this is precisely what happens every single day because of poor water, sanitation and hygiene,” Wijesekera added.
 
UNICEF said that although the number of deaths have decreased over the last decade from 1.2 million per year in 2000 to about 760,000 a year in 2011, the number is still big.

Child mortality data show that about half of the deaths occur in only five countries, namely India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Pakistan and China.

UNICEF said India and Nigeria, which account for more than a third of all under-five deaths, both have significant populations without improved water and sanitation.
 
Of the 783 million people worldwide without improved drinking water, there are 119 million in China, 97 million in India, 66 million in Nigeria, 36 million in DRC and 15 million in Pakistan.
 
Meanwhile, an estimated 26% of the Philippine population or about 24 million Filipinos do not have improved sanitation.

Almost 8 million Filipinos are openly defecate, which is the third highest total in the Asia Pacific Region.
 
“Under the leadership of the Department of Health, the Philippines has made significant advances in sanitation over the last 20 years, however, we are in jeopardy of not reaching the 2015 Millennium Development Goal on Sanitation because the poorest 20% of the population is sliding,” Tim Grieve, Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in UNICEF Philippines, said.
 
Over the last 20 years, the poorest 20% of the rural population went from 36% open defecation to a staggering 48% open defecation.

UNICEF said poor sanitation and poverty go hand in hand. Sanitation coverage in poor provinces such as Masbate and Maguindanao is as low as 38% and 30%, respectively.

“UNICEF would like to take the opportunity of World Water Day to advocate to National Government Agencies, Local Government Units, private sector and civil society organisations to take collective action and increase funding for greater sanitation coverage in poor areas of the Philippines - an important step in achieving the Millennium Development Goal on Sanitation and breaking the cycle of poverty," Grieve said.