In countries with the poorest sanitation, child mortality is nearly 7 times higher than in countries with the best access to sanitation. This is one of the findings of a new study  by Canadian-based researchers who say they are the first to quantify the impact of unsafe water and poor sanitation on child and maternal mortality.
Researchers at the United Nations University and McMaster University analysed data on access to safe water and adequate sanitation across 193 countries and compared them with maternal and child deaths.
Dividing the countries into four tiers (“quartiles”), they found that countries ranked in the bottom 25% in terms of adequate sanitation had about 6.6 more deaths per 1,000 children under five years old compared to countries in the top 25% tier.
Similarly, when judged on access to safe water, countries ranked in the bottom quartile, child mortality was 4.7 higher than in the top quartile.
Relating adequate sanitation provision and maternal death rates (death within a year of childbirth), the paper says the odds of dying increase 48% from the top tier to each lower tier of countries; the corresponding odds with respect to unsafe inadequate sanitation: 42%.
 Cheng, J.J. et al., 2012. An ecological quantification of the relationships between water, sanitation and infant, child, and maternal mortality. Environmental Health, 11 (4). Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1476-069X-11-4 [accessed 17 Feb 2012]
- Diarrhoeal diseases: study predicts decline in global deaths, E-Source, 20 April 2011
- Health impact: effect of water quality, hygiene and sanitation in preventing diarrhoea deaths, E-Source, 22 Jun 2010
Related web sites:
- UNU-INWEH – Water-Health Nexus
- WHO – Water Sanitation and Health (WSH) – Burden of disease and cost-effectiveness estimates
Contact: June J Cheng (firstname.lastname@example.org), Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Program, Dept. of Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, McMaster University and United Nations University Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH), Canada
Source: United Nations University, EurekaAlert!, 14 Feb 2011