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PRESS
RELEASE  

International Network Proposes Alternatives for Access to Safe Drinking Water in Developing Countries

Washington, DC, June 3, 2003 (PAHO)—On Wednesday, June 4, the second meeting for the Establishment of a Network to Promote Safe Household Water Treatment and Storage will be launched at the Pan American Health Organization. Its objectives include analyzing changes in the current situation, in which some 1.1 billion people —primarily the world’s poorest populations— lack access to these vital services. This situation affects 130 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Progress in coverage of drinking water supply and sanitation in LAC has failed to overcome important limitations in coverage, quality, and equity in the delivery of these services. The proportion of the population without access to potable water and sanitation services is five times higher in rural areas than in cities. Although disaggregated regional information is not always available, there is also a recognized disproportionate deficit of access in urban fringe settlements and indigenous communities. This situation reduces the chances for inhabitants to live long and healthy lives.

The lack of household services and inappropriate environments contribute to an estimated 3.4 million deaths, primarily of children, from water-related diseases.

The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals include that of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by the year 2015. They also include halving the percentage of people who lack access to potable water and sanitation. Access to potable water and sanitation, together with good hygienic practices, contributes to health and productivity for sustainable development.

The network will help, in the short term, to accelerate the health benefits of clean water and sanitation through the adequate management and use of water in the home, particularly in populations with limited household access to these services. One of the objectives of the network is to empower the estimated 1.1 billion people without improved water sources to take charge of their own drinking water safety by providing them with access to affordable and appropriate solutions and with the capacity to use and maintain solutions for long-term sustainability.

The United Nations recognizes the need for alliances among agencies and constructive relations with civil society and the private sector to advance in the fulfillment of its missions. This Network represents a special opportunity to respond to these needs.

The meeting for the establishment of the network was organized by the World Health Organization, in coordination with the Pan American Health Organization. Participating institutions include the U.S. Agency for International Development, multilateral agencies, the World Bank, representatives of the public and private sector, universities, research centers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the International Council of Nurses, international professional associations and the International Water Association.

PAHO was established in 1902 and is the world’s oldest ongoing health organization. PAHO works with all the countries of the Americas to improve health and improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. It serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization.

For more information, video material, or photographs please contact: Eugenio Gutiérrez, OPS, Tel (202) 974-3650, e-mail: gutierre@paho.org.


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