Inadequate sanitation biggest killer of children under five
While the government claims at least 88 percent sanitation coverage, WaterAid Bangladesh said the actual sanitation coverage in the country is not more than 39 percent.
Speakers at the launching ceremony of the Water Aid Global Report on 'Tackling the silent killer: The case for sanitation' said the gap must be covered by analysing the real situation, otherwise progress in the health sector is not possible.
Citing a Unicef-WHO report, the country representative of WaterAid Dr Md Khairul Islam said, “Although the government claims 88 percent sanitation coverage in the country but the exact scenario is not alike."
The report highlights that inadequate sanitation is the biggest killer of children under the age of five but in Bangladesh it remains the most neglected part of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG).
It said if Bangladesh government does not allocate more budget in sanitation it will have to wait for 2022 instead of 2015 to fulfill the MDG target.
The programme was held at the Spectra Convention Centre in the city.
Dr Mustafa Jalal Mohiuddin, health and family planning secretary of Bangladesh Awami League, and Ghulam Muhammad Quader, ex-member of parliament from Jatiya Party, were present as guests of honour while Md Abu Bakar Siddique, joint chief of Physical Infrastructure Division at the Planning Commission and Jane Crowder, infrastructure adviser of DFID, were present as panel speaker.
The report said around 97 lakh children die before reaching their fifth birthday and of them 24 lakh die due to poor sanitation across the world.
Of them, deaths could be substantially prevented by focusing on sanitation sector at the national and international level and it will also accelerate progress to achieve the UN MDG target for improved sanitation by 2015.
For every $1 invested in sanitation, $9 is returned to national economy in increased productivity and a reduced burden of healthcare, the report added.
The speakers called upon the governments and the decision makers to prioritise sanitation to reduce child mortality alongside improving health and education to reduce poverty.
They said in Bangladesh, water and sanitation issues carry major public health implications, which direly need to be addressed while the sanitation facilities in schools and public places and their proper use and maintenance are again a big challenge to achieving the sanitation target.
“Investment in sanitation saves money of the government. It is not only saving money, it also works as building health of people,” said Jane Crowder.
She said Bangladesh government is already committed, now there is need for increased monitoring.