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On World Water Day, Pan American Health Organization Director Carissa F. Etienne is calling on governments, societies, communities and individuals to become "water diplomats" and work toward universal access to drinking water and sanitation. "Together, we can make sure these essential resources are available and shared equitably among present and future generations," said Dr. Etienne in a video message.

Dr. Etienne's World Water Day message

In the Americas, life expectancy is 7 years lower in countries where there is less access to water and sanitation services.  In Latin America and the Caribbean, better access to clean water and sanitation could save some 4,000 lives--many of them children, who are especially vulnerable to diarrhea and other water-borne diseases

World Water Day is celebrated annually on 22 March. The theme of this year's campaign is "Water, water everywhere, if we only shared," highlighting the idea that cooperation is the key to ensuring that everyone has access to this essential resource for life and health.