A programme on environmental sanitation jointly carried out by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Health in Vietnam since 2009 has contributed to raising public awareness of using hygienic toilets and giving up the indiscriminate defecation habit.

The programme has implemented in over 900 villages in seven provinces nationwide, benefiting 184,000 rural households with more than 220,000 children. As many as 125 villages have been recognised as those with hygienic household toilets.

According to UNICEF Vietnam, similar programmes have helped about 26 million people in more than 50 countries give up the habit of defecating in the open.

UNICEF said about 2.5 billion people worldwide have not yet used hygienic toilets, putting themselves and their children at risk of suffering deadly diseases such diarrhoea.

In 2013, over 340,000 children under five died of diarrhoea resulted from the shortage of clean water and the unawareness of environmental sanitation and personal hygiene.-VNA