United Nations, Sept 16: India has made great strides to improve hygiene and public health, UN chief Ban Ki-moon has said while lauding Prime Minister Narendra Modi for "breaking taboos" by making sanitation a national priority.
"India is making great strides to improve hygiene and public health. With his commitment to end open defecation, Prime Minister Modi is breaking taboos while making sanitation a national priority," Secretary-General Ban said in his message on the launch of the exhibition 'Water for Life' in Mumbai on Tuesday.
He said with political will, innovative approaches and social change, total sanitation coverage can be a reality.
"Let us build on the advances of the 'Water for Life' Decade. I count on the support of all actors, from scientists to policymakers, to work together to achieve sustainable water and sanitation for all and ensure that no one is left behind," he added.
He welcomed the launch of the exhibition and said the world has made tremendous gains in the areas of water and sanitation. In the course of one generation, 2.3 billion people have gained access to an improved drinking water source, meeting the Millennium Development Goal target five years ahead of schedule.
More than 1.9 billion people have gained improved access to sanitation, he said in his message. While considerable momentum was generated when the UN General Assembly declared access to clean drinking water and safe sanitation a human right, much remains to be done.
"Every day, nearly 1,000 children under the age of 5 are killed by a toxic mix of unsafe drinking water, poor sanitation and hygiene. Some 2.5 billion people lack access to adequate sanitation and 1 billion practise open defecation," he said.
As countries around the world embark on implementing the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the proposed sustainable development goal encompassing the entire water cycle will help the international community to address water and sanitation issues in a holistic manner.