UN University has given two keys that should lead to eradication of poverty and worldwide health standards improvement, namely clean water and sanitation in developing countries. As UN stated costs needed to provide better water and toilets would pay for itself by saving cash spent on treating different waterborne diseases, as this would raise productivity lost to illness and create more jobs in developing countries.
More than 10 % people in the world (more than 900 million people) lack access to water that is safe for drinking, and almost three times as that (more than 2,5 billion people) live without adequate sanitation systems which lead to many diseases. And as the population on Earth increases so do these numbers. Of course climate change trend isn't helping either.
Data from the year 2002 shows how serious this problem really is, 2002 alone had the total number of deaths attributed to poor water, sanitation and hygiene above 3.5 million, mostly because of diarrhea that is responsible for about 1,5 million deaths of children each year. Experts say that with the proper sanitation and clean water almost 94 % of these deaths would be preventable.
There is no doubt that rural areas need proper sanitation and clean water, and building latrines there would already be an excellent first step. However in order to really make the difference rich countries would need to create big funds up to $25 billions. This is large sum of money but so would be the benefits in terms of better health and productivity that could according to some predictions return nine times the needed investment.
So this is not only the matter of (forgotten) ethics but also the matter of more than reasonable investment, and rich countries should put more money to fund these primary needs. However this funding currently looks highly unlikely, given severe financial crisis that is drying up budgets in order to help recovery of financial system. And in the meantime poverty, dirty water and lack of basic sanitation will remain in many parts of the world. And the poor ones yet again have to wait. Wait and suffer.