AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
MUMBAI: Bollywood icon Shah Rukh Khan has joined a campaign to help cut thousands of easily-preventable deaths across the world through the provision of basic toilet facilities.
The 45-year-old star has been named a global ambassador for sanitation and hygiene as part of a United Nations-backed campaign to tackle diseases such as diarrhoea, which is the second-biggest killer of children worldwide.
"It is shameful and tragic that every 30 seconds a child dies from preventable diarrhoea -- that's two unnecessary child deaths per minute," Khan said in a statement released on Monday.
"Toilets for all will make India and the world a healthier and cleaner place, particularly for poor women, girls and others at the margins of our societies," he added.
Khan's new role comes as specialists and non-governmental organisations working to improve public health gather in Mumbai this week at a Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) conference.
Halving the number of people living without access to basic sanitation by 2015 is one of the eight Millennium Development Goals covering issues from poverty and hunger to education and tackling HIV/AIDS.
WSSCC executive director Jon Lane said Khan's involvement would give "huge impetus to moving the agenda forward" amid fears that the target on improving sanitation would not be met.