Piped water can bring huge benefits, says Water Aid
The charity Water Aid is telling the G8 summit in Japan that investing in sanitation would be the single most effective way to cut child deaths.
Water Aid is lobbying the summit with a new report that says 40% of the world's population lack even basic sanitation.
This kills more children than malaria, HIV/Aids and measles combined, it says.
The report cites 19th Century England as an example where investment in sewers and piped water brought huge falls in child mortality.
There was a similar positive experience in Sri Lanka, then Ceylon, in the 1940s.
Current research in South Korea, Singapore and Malaysia suggests a similar big impact for investment in sanitation.
Water Aid says that historically and medically this investment gives the greatest public health returns of any development initiative.
Lack of toilets and bad habits by people with few choices are primary causes of diarrhoea and respiratory diseases, the two biggest killers of children in poor countries.
Water Aid says world leaders, at the G8 Summit and in the Third World, should focus on the issue of toilets and sanitation and not respond to other issues that get the most press attention or the most celebrity endorsements.
It is something G8 leaders may reflect upon during comfort breaks in the no doubt gleaming and efficient toilet facilities at their summit in Japan.
Improving access to toilets and providing clean piped water are part of the Millennium Development goals set by all world leaders at the turn of the century.
They pledged to reduce by half the proportion of people without access to decent sanitation by the year 2015.
On current progress, according to Water Aid, that target will not be met in sub-Saharan Africa until the year 2076.