Coordinated action worked for H1N1: time for the same approach to diarrhoea
Press Release, Geneva 19 August 2010 – A week after the World Health Organization announced the welcome news that the H1N1 flu has ended its pandemic phase, the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) reminds the world’s decision-makers that deaths from diarrhoea remain extremely high. These deaths are closely linked to inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene practices, and are mainly among children under 5 years old in the world’s poorest countries.
WSSCC will take this reminder to two major global gatherings next month, an international meeting of leading water experts in Stockholm and the UN Summit of world leaders called for by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the High-Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly.
“H1N1 was rightly seen as a threat to global health, and coordinated international attention has been successful in reducing the risk. Significant levels of resources, both time and money, were directed to addressing the issue. There was also considerable public debate, including extended coverage in the media,” said Jon Lane, WSSCC’s Executive Director.
“By these standards, diarrhoea has been neglected. The H1N1 virus has killed at least 18,3003 people to date. During the same time, diarrhoea has killed about 2 million people. We would love to be able to announce that we are overcoming the threat of diarrhoea, but sadly, that is not the case. Yet we know that some simple measures, including access to toilets and hand washing at key moments, could make a huge difference. It’s time the international community put significant time and money into this issue, and treated it with the urgency it deserves.”