Water, sanitation and hygiene links to health

Facts and figures updated November 2004

"Water and Sanitation is one of the primary drivers of public health. I often refer to it as “Health 101”, which means that once we can secure access to clean water and to adequate sanitation facilities for all people, irrespective of the difference in their living conditions, a huge battle against all kinds of diseases will be won."
Dr LEE Jong-wook, Director-General, World Health Organization.




An estimated 160 million people are infected with schistosomiasis.


Intestinal helminths (Ascariasis, Trichuriasis, Hookworm

Japanese encephalitis

Hepatitis A




Access to water supply as of 2002

Access to sanitation as of 2002

Emergencies and disasters

Water resources development


Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

By including water supply, sanitation and hygiene in the MDGs, the world community has acknowledged the importance of their promotion as development interventions and has set a series of goals and targets.

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

Water for Life Decade: 2005-2015

Salient quotes

“We shall not finally defeat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, or any of the other infectious diseases that plague the developing world until we have also won the battle for safe drinking water, sanitation and basic health care.”
Kofi Annan, United Nations Secretary-General

“The human right to water entitles everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic uses”
General Comment No. 15 (2002): The Right to Water.

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