I’ve just come across the paper Infant mortality and child health in Brazil by Denisard Alves and Walter Belluzzo of the University of São Paulo (published in Economics & Human Biology in December 2004). The authors end their paper by saying:
Among the factors considered, education is by far the most important as one additional year of schooling leads to a decline of more than 7% in average infant mortality rates. Improvement in sanitation services, meaning more availability of treated running water and sewage services, also led to a decline in infant mortality [emphasis added]. Economic growth as measured by per capita income is also a strong factor in reducing infant mortality. … From a policy perspective, the conclusion is clear: education [i.e., “education level measured by the average years of schooling of the municipal population”], improvement of sanitary services [i.e., connection to a piped water supply and sewerage], higher per capita income, that should be brought about by economic growth, are all important factors to improve child health in Brazil.
More evidence to persuade recalcitrant politicians to roll out WASH programmes!
Brazilians say “Saneamento básico: aqui começa A Saúde” – ‘Health begins with basic sanitation’, with ‘basic sanitation’ meaning not just sanitation but also water supply, stormwater drainage and garbage disposal (the term is close to ‘environmental sanitation’).