According to the news in this paper (Dec 15), in reply to a letter by Bill Gates of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, President Zardari reiterated his government’s commitment to undertaking coordinated efforts to eradicate polio.

Water is a key adjunct if sanitation is to be practiced in its true sense. Without water, the sanitation itself will become a nuisance. While the world has made significant progress in the water sector, the situation in Sindh is pathetic. Safe and potable drinking water is simply not available. In Tharparkar, the people are drinking, in a strict technical sense, poisonous water. Water pipes, toilets and soaps, in and of themselves, do not improve health, unless hygienic principles are adopted. Hygiene improves human behaviors related to health.

One-third of the population of Pakistan defecates openly in fields. In rural Sindh, the people are poor and lack sanitation facilities. Water and sanitation in Sindh is so poor that the writer would like to coin a new phrase: “Water and Sanitation for All” in Sindh — millennium development goal notwithstanding.

Since there is a contact between the Pakistan government and Bill Gates, it is strongly suggested that the assistance of Bill Gates should be sought in improving access to water and sanitation in Sindh, along with the behavioural change in hygiene so as to lead to healthier lives. Because of the issues related to transparency and the quality of construction work, the technical progress and financial investments made, may be monitored directly by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s representatives. Together with the work of USAID on water and sanitation in Sindh, the province will achieve the impossible – water, sanitation and hygiene for all in Sindh, ten years on.

F. H. MUGHAL     Karachi

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