Ensuring access to safe water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services plays an important role in safeguarding the health, well-being, and resilience of individuals and communities. WASH has the potential to prevent 6.3% of deaths and 9.1% of the disease burden in developing countries.
Each year, approximately 801,000 children under 5 years of age die from diarrheal diseases that result from poor-quality WASH. An estimated 50% of undernutrition is not due to lack of food, but to diarrheal disease and worm infections caused by inadequate WASH.
Fewer than half of health facilities in the developing world have access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation, and hygiene on the premises. This contributes directly to the spread of diseases, including diarrhea, pneumonia, and even Ebola, as well as to life-threatening infections, such as sepsis, which accounts for 11% of global maternal mortality and 7% of neonatal mortality and is frequently acquired when women are forced to give birth in WASH-unsafe environments.
Child and maternal health, HIV/AIDS, neglected tropical diseases, food security, nutrition, pandemic preparedness, and other development efforts can be more effective during initial implementation and more sustainable over the long term if they include WASH.