New Delhi: A majority of respondents in a pan Indian survey were of the opinion that access to functional toilets has led to a significant reduction in stomach ailments among children.
During the survey conducted in late April, more than 52 per cent of the respondents made the assertion while replying to the question: Has there been a number of reduced incidences of stomach ailments among children after toilets came to your area? While about one in five claimed access to toilets did not reduce stomach ailments among children significantly, about one in four stated they did not know or could not say anything on the issue.
Health experts in India as well as across the old have identified lack of access to toilets as a major cause of chronic stomach ailments that leads to further malnutrition among children. This has also been identified as one major cause for child mortality ratio remaining high in India despite steep declines in poverty levels. It is 31 per 1000 live births in India compared to 27 for Bangladesh and 7 for Sri Lanka.
The exclusive survey conducted by CVoter Foundation across India was initiated to find out success and failures of the Swach Bharat campaign.
To make the survey more representative of reality on the ground, all the respondents came from the lower income background, with incomes below Rs 3000 per month. The underlying assumption is that it is the very poor who defecate the most in the open. It is also the poor families that report the highest child mortality rates.
Gastronomic infection and lack of access to quality healthcare are the main factors, triggered by lack of access to toilets.
The poorest state of India Bihar reports a child mortality rate of 56 compared to the all India average of 31. CVoter Foundation will expand the initial scope of this survey into a larger one which will facilitate a state wise ranking on the issue.