Who lauds India’s commitment to accelerated sanitation coverage

Why in News?

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) has released a progress report on potential health impact from increased sanitation coverage through the Swachh Bharat Mission- Gramin (SBM-G).


  • India’s rural sanitation coverage has escalated to 89.07 percent by August 2, 2018.
  • Under the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin), 19 States and Union Territories were declared Open Defecation Free (ODF) and 7.9 crore toilets were built, while 421 districts were declared ODF. More than 4.9 lakh villages in the country were also declared Open Defecation Free.
  • As per the study, unsafe sanitation, before the initiation of SMB-G, had caused 199 million cases of diarrhea every year and that of today, the initiative aims to achieve 100 percent sanitation coverage.
  • The report further estimated further, that 14 million Disability Adjusted Life Years (DALYs) can be avoided between 2014 and 2019. WHO estimation of health impacts is based on comparative risk assessment (CAR) methods.

Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin:

  • Swachh Bharat Mission (SBM) was launched on 2nd October 2014, accelerating the efforts to achieve universal sanitation coverage and to put the focus on sanitation.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission comprises of two Sub-Missions – the Swachh Bharat Mission (Gramin) and the Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban).
  • Mission’s aim is to achieve a ‘Swachh Bharat’ by 2019, as a fitting tribute to Mahatma Gandhi on his 150th birth anniversary.

Significance of the mission:

  • As the initial results of a WHO modeling study on the health impact of the Swachh Bharat Mission Gramin (SBM-G) outline, India’s accelerated coverage of safe sanitation services, and its determination to end open defecation, will have a substantial effect on the burden of diarrheal diseases and PEM by reducing mortality and accumulative Disability Adjusted Life Years (the sum of the years of life lost due to premature mortality and years lost due to disability or ill-health).

Health Impact:

  • The broader health impact of India’s commitment to accelerated sanitation coverage is significant.
  • It includes improved overall nutritional status and reduced incidence of infectious diseases such as neglected tropical diseases and acute respiratory infections, as well as vector-borne diseases.
  • Moreover, the estimations apply to the health impacts from improvements in sanitation coverage only, meaning it is possible that the broader Mission has produced additional health gains through changes in personal hygiene and the consumption of safe drinking water.

Sanitation coverage India’s Commitment:

  • India’s commitment and progress towards these outcomes are reflected in the fact that household sanitation coverage has dramatically increased from an estimated 2% per year before the initiative to more than 13% annually between 2016 and 2018.
  • The recent allocation of up to INR 15,000 crore as Extra Budgetary Resources for the SBM-G during the present financial year holds-out the potential for further gains, not only for India, but also the WHO’s South-East Asia Region and the world (globally, diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of under-five mortality, while lack of clean water and sanitation is also a major contributor to malnutrition).

Making of the Report:

  • WHO has worked closely with the Government of India (GoI) to scale up access to sanitation services, by providing technical assistance through India’s participation in the ‘Global Analysis and Assessment of Sanitation and Drinking-Water Survey 2017’, as well as working with partners to support the GoI implementation of WHO’s guidelines for safe water and sanitation planning.
  • WHO has also supported the piloting of TrackFin (Tracking financing to sanitation, hygiene, and drinking-water) in Rajasthan and West Bengal to utilize resources more efficiently for reaching those under threat of being left behind.

Way forward for India:

  • According to the calculations, if all the sanitation services are used and schemes are effectively implemented, the initiative could result in over 14 million more years of healthy life in the period measured, with the benefits accruing yearly thereafter.
  • This is especially remarkable, given that before 2014 unsafe sanitation caused an estimated 199 million cases of diarrhoea annually,
  • With the modelling that shows the problem will almost be eliminated when the universal use of safe sanitation facilities is achieved.


  • Inadequate sanitation has dire consequences for public health, education, poverty, and growth. A disease like stunting amongst children, the death of an infant, diarrhoea can be prevented through good sanitation. Better sanitation helps to break the fecal-oral transmission route that impacts public health and is beneficial for the household and the community. Cross-country studies show that sanitation is the strongest determinant of child survival and improvement in sanitation is accompanied by a reduction in child mortality.
  • Swachh Bharat Mission is emerging as the biggest, most successful behaviour-change campaign of the world. The mission has given multiple benefits, just not for the society but for the whole economy and if it is further implemented effectively, it is sure to uplift India’s image in the world.
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