WHO Promotes Water, Sanitation to Battle Neglected Tropical Diseases
Friday, August 28, 2015
Water, sanitation and hygiene are part of a new World Health Organisation strategy to fight neglected tropical diseases which afflict more than 1.5 billion people, the WHO said on Thursday.
Those suffering from the 17 diseases, such as intestinal worms, river blindness, leprosy and sleeping sickness include many of the poorest people in the world.
"If we put in place universal access to safe water and sanitation and hygiene then the neglected tropical diseases in most cases will completely disappear or be put under control," Maria Neira, head of public health at WHO, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Including water and sanitation in local and national programmes would reduce infections, improve treatment, and reduce the discrimination and stigma that people disfigured by diseases often face, the WHO said.
"Those terrible diseases require hygiene and sanitation and we hope that this contribution will add to our argument that access to safe water and sanitation is one of the most important determinants of our health," Neira said at the launch of the initiative at a global water conference in Stockholm.
Neglected tropical diseases thrive where people live in extreme poverty with poor sanitation and little access to healthcare – usually in remote rural areas, urban slums or conflict zones.