ISLAMABAD, Oct 15: The World Bank’s Strategic Environmental Assessment report, stated that Pakistan is losing around Rs112 billion annually due to unsafe delivery and disposal of water and sanitation, which results in water borne diseases such as diarrhea, hepatitis, malaria and infant mortality.
As millions of people in Pakistan and around the world observed the ‘Global Handwashing Day’ today, the findings of the recent World Bank report comes as an eye opener for the residents of the country because more than 250,000 children in Pakistan die annually due to diarrhea-related diseases and over 40 per cent of the hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-borne diseases.
The ‘Global Handwashing Day’ is aimed to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of water and soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases, and the situation is similar in almost all the underdeveloped and developing countries where 5-10 per cent of all children under the age of five develop diseases related to hygiene.
The situation is seemingly serious in Pakistan as the projected population of the country in the next 10 years is going to be 250 million from the current 180 million, therefore the demand for safe drinking water, improved hygiene and adequate sanitation facilities will also dramatically increase manifold.
The Global Handwashing Day (GHD), being observed on October 15, is dedicated to raising awareness of hand washing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention that can contribute to a significant reduction in child mortality by more than 50 percent, saving huge amount in terms of health and economic costs each year.
To widen the practice of washing hands with soap and develop it as a habit, the participants of the conference, held here today highlighted that washing hands with soap in Pakistan was alarmingly low especially in rural areas.
Officials of Ministry of climate change highlighted that a district-based multiple cluster survey of South Punjab done with the collaboration of UNICEF, showed that in Bhakkar district, Punjab more than 56 per cent of the population did not wash their hands with soap, while in Mianwali district it was at 42 per cent. Similar trends were observed in many other districts of Pakistan.