POLIO UK - ‘Strengthen weaker health systems to keep us all safe’ - WaterAid

22 June 2022
WaterAid/ Eliza Powell

Helen Hamilton, Senior Policy Analyst Health & Hygiene at WaterAid, said: 

“It’s really concerning that polio has reached our shores for the first time in nearly 40 years. Like Covid, it just goes to show how no one is safe until we are all safe and that starts with essential public health measures such as vaccines and good hygiene. Thankfully vaccine uptake in the UK is very good. 

“Vaccination – hand in hand with good hygiene practice – is the best way to stop waterborne diseases in their tracks. But for millions of people across the globe being able to wash their hands with soap and clean water is a luxury. 

“When the UK Government slashed funding last year on polio and water, sanitation and hygiene projects in some of the world’s poorest countries they were short-sighted to say the least. 

“Diseases don’t respect borders. G7 leaders meeting next week must invest in water, sanitation, hygiene and vaccines abroad. It’s critical to strengthening weaker health systems and keeping us all safe from emerging global health threats.”


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Notes to Editors




WaterAid is working to make clean water, decent toilets and good hygiene normal for everyone, everywhere within a generation. The international not-for-profit organisation works in 28 countries to change the lives of the poorest and most marginalised people. Since 1981, WaterAid has reached 26.4 million people with clean water and 26.3 million people with decent toilets. For more information, visit www.wateraid.org/uk, follow @WaterAid or @WaterAidPress on Twitter, or find WaterAid UK on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wateraid.

  • 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have clean water close to home.[1]
  • 2 billion people in the world – almost one in four – do not have a decent toilet of their own.[2]
  • Around 310,000 children under five die every year from diarrhoeal diseases caused by poor water and sanitation. That's almost 800 children a day, or one child every two minutes.[3]
  • Every £1 invested in water and toilets returns an average of £4 in increased productivity.[4]
  • Just £15 can provide one person with clean water.[5]

[1] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[2] WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) Progress on drinking water, sanitation and hygiene: 2017 update and SDG Baselines

[3] Prüss-Ustün et al. (2014) and The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (2018)

[4] World Health organization (2012) Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage

[5] www.wateraid.org