Having access to safe and clean bathroom facilities is something we often take for granted. Shockingly, however, it is estimated that 4.5 billion people worldwide live without a household toilet that safely disposes of their waste.
World Toilet Day falls on Sunday 19th November this year, and aims to raise awareness about those in the world who do not have access to a toilet. This day of the year focuses on the ways we can improve the global sanitation crisis. According to the WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation, sixty-two percent of Africans do not have access to an improved sanitation facility. Poor water and sanitation cost developing countries around $260 billion a year.
What are the dangers of poor sanitation?
The Director of the World Health Organisation asserts, “sanitation is a cornerstone of public health”. Poor sanitation increases the risk of disease and malnutrition, particularly in women and children. Research and studies have found that many human infections are spread through contact with human excreta. Bacteria and viruses can cause diseases that are spread by direct contact with faeces or indirectly via contaminated food and soil. Waste that isn’t safely disposed of can cause an infection that can be spread in a variety of ways. Infection from fluids occurs when water contaminated with faecal organisms is consumed. Infection can also be spread by hands, where a person ingests the organisms if they have come into contact with faeces and have not washed their hands properly afterwards. This contact can occur from defecation, touching dirty surfaces or eating food prepared in an unhygienic manner. An additional danger is that flies and cockroaches often thrive on excreta. If they land on the food they can transfer faecal matter that can be subsequently ingested by a person. To half the proportion of untreated wastewater, people’s waste must be transported and disposed of in a sustainable way.
A wastewater pipe polluting environment
Diseases that are linked to poor sanitation and waste management include the following:
> Hepatitis A and B
> Ascariasis (Roundworm)
> Hookworm infection
> Tapeworm infection
Although we may think of infection through body waste to be a problem for non-developed countries, this can also be a problem in the UK. One 1991 British survey of 528 women at an ob-gyn clinic found that 85 percent said they crouched over public toilets while urinating, and 12 percent papered the seat. Although the toilet seat is not a common vehicle for transmitting infections, it is still a possibility. HBV for example can be spread when blood or body fluids from an infected person enter the body of a person who is not infected. This is often spread through breaks in the skin or through the moist linings of the eyes, nose, mouth, and genitalia. Although it is unlikely for anyone to get a urinary tract infection from a toilet seat, it is theoretically possible to transfer infectious organisms from a toilet seat to a buttock or thigh cut or sore. The organisms can be spread to the urethra or genitals.
Although it is unnecessary to go out of your way to avoid public toilets, washing your hands is highly important. You can invest in a hand sanitizer, such as the Purell Advanced Hygienic Hand Rub to maintain skin health and prevent bacteria from spreading. Alcohol hand gel can be useful in providing rapid disinfection of hands. If you are a carer for someone with incontinence, then you will understand how important it is to clean the spillage up as quickly as possible. If you live in an environment with a person who is incontinent or finds it difficult to reach a toilet in time, you can invest in fluid spill kits to effectively clear up the fluid and prevent the spread of infection.
> Combines antimicrobial efficacy and clinically proven maintenance of skin health
> Scientifically advanced
> Bactericidal according to EN 1500, EN 12791, EN 1040, EN 1276 and EN 13727
> Virucidal according to EN 14476, fungicidal and yeasticidal according to EN 1275 and EN 13624
>Tuberculocidal and mycobactericidal according to EN 14348
> Rapid disinfection of hands and helps combat Hospital Acquired Infections
> Proven to kill MRSA
> Integral pump dispenser reduces the risk of cross infection
> Independently tested formula – exceeds EN1500 and EN1276
> Gel formula spreads quickly and easily over the hands for rapid disinfection
> Contains emollient
> No water or towels required
> Pack of 100 sachets (6g)
> Absorbent powder
> Prevents spillages
> Provides safe transportation of liquid clinical waste
> Absorbs body fluids and converts them to a firm non-spill gel
> Ideal for use with bedpans, urine bottles and vomit bowls
How can you take action on World Toilet Day?
- Print a poster. You can help to end open defecation by downloading the educational poster here and posting it in your area.
- Learn about human waste and read the stories that are shared on the World Toilet Day website. Educate others, and help prevent poor sanitation.
- Run for sanitation awareness. On World Toilet Day, the World Toilet Organization holds a Global Urgent Run. The Global Urgent Run is a call for urgent action to end the sanitation crisis. This aims to raise awareness for the global sanitation challenge and engage people with sanitation issues in their local communities. Join the event here.