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Environment and health
Sanitation coverage is poor in Swaziland, as an estimated 59 percent of the rural population has pit latrines and only 33 percent has access to a clean water supply. The high rate of infant mortality in the country is attributed to diarrhoea, malnutrition and infectious diseases, which can be linked to the lack of a potable water supply and sanitary facilities and to poor hygiene.
The highest risk of bilharzia infection is in the Middleveld and Lubombo plateau where rivers flow slowly and stagnant pools form. The high temperatures and the lack of alternative water supply sources mean that people use the rivers and streams for swimming, washing and drinking. Domestic animals use the same water and contaminate it, increasing the risk of transmitting infections to humans. No study to establish the full extent of the problem of bilharzia has been undertaken. However it was estimated in 1990 that the infected population may be as high as 20 percent of the population of the Middleveld and the Lubombo plateau.
Malaria remains a major health problem in the country. The disease is seasonal and unstable, occurring mainly during or after the rainy season. Malaria is prevalent in the Lowveld, Lubombo Plateau and some parts of the Middleveld. It is estimated that 30 percent of the population resides in malaria risk areas, 38 percent in malaria receptive areas and 32 percent in non-malaria areas.