Monday, July 6, 2009

Poor sanitation claimed some 780,000 children in Africa last year

Some 780,000 African children, under age five, died of diarrhoea last year due to inadequate access to safe water and sanitation, WaterAid research has shown.It estimates a yearly 15 billion-dollar economic cost to the continent if the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets for water and sanitation are not met.In a press release received by GNA on Monday, Mr Stephen Ntow, Country Representative of WaterAid, Ghana, expressed disquiet over the fact that African leaders had failed to act upon a pledge to address the situation at last year's African Union Summit."Last year's Summit marked a breakthrough as African leaders raised water and sanitation to the top of the political agenda by signing the Sham El-Sheik and eThekwini commitments to accelerate progress towards the water and sanitation goals," he said, but expressed shock that little action had been done to address the situation.Mr Ntow said the number of children that died of diarrhoea were a stark indication of the human cost of insufficient investment and called for immediate and pragmatic steps to reverse the sad trend. "Diarrhoea is a major health crisis facing Africa. It is the second biggest killer of under-fives, yet neither governments nor donors are paying enough attention to this deadly disease," he said. "African leaders must implement and independently monitor the Sham El-Sheik and eThekwini commitments on water and sanitation as well as collaborate with international counterparts including the G8 in order to mobilize international efforts to support African commitments especially in areas that border on water and sanitation," Mr Ntow said.

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