BALI, Indonesia, Sept. 10 (Xinhua) -- The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that 1.5 million under-five-year- old children were killed annually by diarrhea in the world, a WHO officer said here on Monday.
Dr. Athula Kahandaliyanage, director for sustainable development and healthy environment of the WHO office in Southeast Asia, said the lacking of access to safe and sustainable drinking- water and sanitation services together with poor hygiene practices increased the risks of many infectious disease, including diarrhea.
In East Asia region, over 450 cases occurred every year with the number of child fatality recorded as 150,000, he said in his speech at the 3rd East Asian Ministerial Conference on Sanitation and Hygiene in Bali.
"These disease not only threaten lives but also keep children from school and adults from work thereby perpetuating the cycle of poverty," he said.
The East Asia region, taken as a whole, had already achieved the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) sanitation targets, though a few countries still face challenges to meet their national targets, said Athula.
According to forecasts of improved sanitation coverage, the MDG target of 68 percent for East Asia as a whole may be exceeded by 8 percent by 2015, he said.
Nevertheless, despite the progress, almost 700 million people in East Asia still lack the access to improved sanitation facilities and nearly 100 million of which practiced open defecation, said Athula.
According to the United Nations Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking Water report this year, over 60 percent of the countries surveyed lacked information on water and sanitation facilities in hospitals and health posts.