By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Only 38.2 percent of Brazilian municipalities have basic sanitation policies, which includes services of water supply, sewage management and rainwater management, according to data released by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE) on Wednesday.
The institute links the lack of policies and poor sanitation to many endemic or epidemic diseases registered in the country today.
“Many of these diseases are directly related to sanitation, urban cleaning and rainwater drainage,” said IBGE researcher Vânia Pacheco, who conducted the survey.
The results are likely to put pressure on more than 3,440 local governments to create basic sanitation plans by the end of 2019 or else cease to receive federal funds.
In 2017, according to the IBGE, 34.7 percent of the 5,570 Brazilian municipalities reported cases of endemic or epidemic of diseases related to poor basic sanitation, the most common being diarrhea and dengue fever.
“The lack of drinkable water, collection and sewage treatment services creates an environment conducive to the development of serious diseases,” says Instituto Trata Brasil, entity of private companies which supports basic sanitation programs. According to the entity 44.92 percent of sewage collected in Brazil is treated.
The Ministry of Health says the cost of hospitalizations of patients in the public Unified Health System (SUS) due to diseases caused by lack of basic sanitation and access to quality water reached the R$100 million mark in 2017.
States with the worst basic sanitation systems were recorded in the Northeastern part of the country. Paraiba state, for example, registered only 13 percent of their municipalities with a sanitation plan, while Pernambuco registered 14.1 percent and Bahia 14.6 percent of municipalities with treated sewage and water systems.
The highest proportions of municipalities with a sanitation plan were located in the South, including Santa Catarina state (87.1 percent) and Rio Grande do Sul (75.5 percent).