Despite initial hiccups, Swachh Bharat mission scores on health report card

Despite initial hiccups, Swachh Bharat mission scores on health report card. ThePrint, October 4, 2017.

Narendra Modi participating in a construction of a twin toilet pit in Varanasi on 22 September.| Source: @NarendraModi

Narendra Modi participating in a construction of a twin toilet pit in Varanasi on 22 September.| Source: @NarendraModi

Study reveals health indicators for children, women have shown improvement in areas that have become open defecation-free under Swachh Bharat in the past year.

Even as questions are being raised over the Narendra Modi government’s track record of delivering on the Swachh Bharat mission, there is one report card where the PM’s pet project seems to be scoring well — the state of health report.

A study, undertaken by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) on behalf of the drinking water and sanitation ministry to assess the health impact of the Swachh mission in rural areas, reveals that health indicators for children and women have shown considerable improvement in areas that have become open defecation-free (ODF) in the past one year.

The report, accessed by ThePrint, shows that the cases of diarrhoea among children are 46 per cent more in non-ODF areas; there are 78 per cent higher cases of worms in stools of children in non-ODF areas; 58 per cent higher cases of stunting among children and 48 per cent more cases of women with lower body mass index (BMI) than those in non-ODF areas.

The study observes that “becoming ODF had a positive impact on child’s health and nutrition, evident from the fact that the health and nutritional indicators of the children and mothers belonging to the ODF areas were comparatively better than their non-ODF counterparts”.

Read the complete article.

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