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A REPORT CARD ON WATER AND SANITATION: NUMBER 5, SEPTEMBER 2006 View Previous Editions>

Other related diseases

Other related diseases

Pneumonia takes more than 2 million young children’s lives every year, and recent studies suggest that hand washing with soap may help reduce the incidence of childhood pneumonia, as well as diarrhoea, in the developing world. Careful and frequent hand washing is recommended, too, as a means of preventing the transmission of avian influenza, among other infectious diseases.

Water, sanitation and hygiene are associated with other diseases, such as trachoma, and worm-related illnesses, including Guinea worm disease (dracunculiasis), bilharzia (schistosomiasis) and those caused by intestinal worms (ascariasis and hookworm). In children, worm infestation can occur at vital stages in their intellectual and physical development.

Worm infestations predominately affect children of school age – from 5 to 15 years old – resulting in reduced physical growth, weakened physical fitness and impaired cognitive functions. Poor nutritional status contributes to these effects. As the intensity of infection increases, academic performance and school attendance decline substantially.

Clean water and improved sanitation can reduce the morbidity of dracunculiasis and schistosomiasis by more than three quarters. Dracunculiasis is today at the point of eradication – its worldwide prevalence has been reduced from an estimated 3.5 million cases in 1986 to about 10,000 reported cases in 2005. Endemic in 20 countries in the late 1980s, Guinea worm is now endemic in just 9 African countries: Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan and Togo.