ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Sanitation in West Bengal

Bangladesh Shows the Way

Literacy and public education rather than economic growth are integral to eradicating open defecation, suggests this study of sanitation practices in three districts of West Bengal and nine bordering districts of Bangladesh. While the number of households with a latrine on the premises grew by 15.1% in West Bengal from 2001 to 2011, Bangladesh made more rapid progress, highlighting the importance of the shame vs subsidy social marketing programme employed at the grass roots to improve sanitation coverage.

The author acknowledges the guidance of Sajal Chattopadhyay, Economic Advisor, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, US, in preparing this article. He also acknowledges the useful comments and suggestions of the editor and anonymous reviewer. The author’s conclusions are his own and do not necessarily represent the views of any organisation.

Safe water, adequate sanitation and hygiene are cardinal prerequisites for the protection of health (Prüss-Ustün et al 2014). Childhood diarrhoea can be prevented by access to safe water and sanitation, along with the advancement of good hygiene practices, particularly handwashing with soap. The primary causes of diarrhoeal deaths today are unsafe water, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene (Black et al 2003). Five thousand children die every day due to infectious diarrhoea, caused principally by inadequate sanitation (UN-Water 2008). There are also links between poor sanitation and acute respiratory infections (ARIs) (Mara 2010).

Food intake, general health status and the physical environment determine levels of nutrition and malnutrition. Reduced absorption of nutrients takes place due to repeated diarrhoeal diseases and parasitic infestations caused by water contaminated by faecal waste, poor sanitation and insufficient hygiene. Levels of water and sanitation services have a considerable influence on weight-for-age Z-scores in infants (Spears et al 2013; Esrey et al 1992; Esrey 1996; Checkley 2004; Merchant 2003).

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Updated On : 28th Mar, 2018
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