Why has the number of children dying from diarrhoeal disease due to poor WASH significantly dropped?

Last year, we estimated that over 500,000 children were dying every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation. This year, we are estimating that in 2013, 314,824 under 5 died under these circumstances. If significant progresses have been made in one year, the drop in number is mainly due to a change in methodology. This blog explains in details the methodology that was used to reach this more robust number.

Approximately 5.9 million children under age five will have died in 2015.
This figures is from the 2015 Progress Report “A Promise Renewed” published yearly by the UNICEF, and in conjunction with the child mortality estimates of the United Nations Inter-agency Expert Group, on child survival to track progress, promote accountability for global commitments made to children, and help sustain political commitment. These new estimates are for mid-2014 to mid-2015.

Diarrhoeal disease alone amounts to an estimated 9.2% of the Global distribution of deaths among children under age 5 in 2013.
This estimates comes from the Global Health Observatory Data Repository using model developed by experts for UNICEF and WHO. This estimate is for 2013.

58% of Diarrhoeal death are caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation
This data is from the recent study “Burden of disease from inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene in low- and middle-income settings: a retrospective analysis of data from 145 countries“. Until this year, Wateraid was using the estimation given by the latest global burden of disease (GBD) study, dating from 2000, according to which 88% of diarrhoeal mortality was attributable to inadequate WASH globally. However, this estimates used a very low baseline of “no disease transmission through water and sanitation” a situation that is a lower level of risk than is commonly encountered even in high-income countries. The Prüss-Ustün study from 2014 offers a revision of methods and estimates of the burden of diarrhoeal disease associated with inadequate WASH. The study estimates that, globally, 842 000 diarrhoea deaths are estimated to be caused by inadequate WASH, which amounts to 58% of diarrhoeal diseases.

→ 9.2% of 5.9 million = 542,800 ; 58% of 542,800 = 314,824

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