Water, sanitation and hygiene interventions, also known as WASH policies, do improve public health; these controls help reduce the spread of illnesses such as cholera and diarrhea; they can also reduce the spread of tropical diseases and control the spread of Hepatitis A and intestinal worms. WASH policies can significantly reduce the risk of death or health impairment from waterborne diseases, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Having sanitation and hygiene protocols in place can reduce the global disease number by nearly 10 percent, and can reduce the death rate from waterborne illnesses by approximately six percent.
Of the diseases spread and spawned by unclean water, diarrhea and pneumonia are the most problematic for children. These illnesses are responsible for the deaths of many children globally each year, say Wash Advocates. In addition to killing children, chronic illness and corresponding malnutrition can delay and impair physical and cognitive growth. Providing communities with clean drinking water and access to basic sanitary measures, such as soap and toilets, can reduce that problem.
Girls are another population segment that benefits from WASH policies. Communities where schools provide adequate, gender-segregated restrooms and hygienic facilities for young women have an 11 percent higher rate of women completing their basic education than communities without those provisions. In addition to health benefits, WASH policies can promote socio-economic development and even reduce poverty, notes the CDC.