WHO thumbs up for Swachh Bharat’s rural component

Swachh Bharat Mission

To accelerate the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put focus on sanitation, the Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, launched the Swachh Bharat Mission on 2nd October, 2014. The Mission Coordinator shall be Secretary, Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation (MDWS) with two Sub-Missions – the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban). The Mission aims to achieve a Swachh Bharat by 2019, as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.

It is estimated that the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) will result in preventing more than three lakh deaths due to diarrhea and protein-energy malnutrition between 2014-October 2019, World Health Organisation (WHO) report released.

The progress report on potential health impact from increased sanitation coverage through the SBM-G, conducted by the WHO for the Ministry of Drinking Water and Sanitation, said India’s rural sanitation coverage escalated to 89.07% till August 2.

The report notes that under the SBM-G, 19 States and Union Territories were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) and 7.9 crore toilets were built, while 421 districts were declared ODF.

Also, more than 4.9 lakh villages in the country were declared ODF.

The WHO study showed that before the initiation of SBM-G, unsafe sanitation caused 199 million cases of diarrhoea annually and that by 2019, the initiative aims to achieve 100% sanitation coverage.

Union Health secretary Preeti Sudan, speaking at the release of the report, said, “WHO has only highlighted what we have known and are working towards. Sanitation and health are deeply related and the Ministry has several schemes running parallel to ensure good health coverage reaches all.”

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