November 19, 2013
Inadequate Sanitation Is The No. 1 Topic On World Toilet Day
Brett Smith for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
In declaring Nov. 19 “World Toilet Day,” the United Nations has symbolically made Tuesday’s No.1 priority raising awareness of inadequate sanitation for people living around the world.
According to the UN, about 2.5 billion people do not have access to sufficient sanitation facilities and over 1 billion practice open defecation – a preventable routine that severely impacts public health.
“We must break the taboos and make sanitation for all a global development priority,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said in a statement declaring Tuesday to be the first official World Toilet Day under the eyes of the United Nations. “Sanitation is central to human and environmental health. It is essential or sustainable development, dignity and opportunity.”
United Nations’ statistics indicate that over 800,000 children under 5 die from diarrhea each year, many of these cases are due to poor sanitation. In making its declaration, the UN also cited a recent report from WaterAid, one of its private partners, and Unilever. Titled “We Can’t Wait,” the report said a lack of access to clean sanitation facilities prevents many girls from pursuing their education after they reach puberty.
“When schools offer decent toilets, 11 percent more girls attend,” Ban said. “When women have access to a private latrine, they are less vulnerable to assault.”
In an attempt to raise awareness of widespread sanitation issues, Singapore sponsored the UN General Assembly resolution declaring Nov. 19 as World Toilet Day back in July. The UN is following up on the declaration with a campaign to end open defecation by the year 2025 and halve the number of people lacking adequate sanitation.
“By working together — and by having a frank and open discussion on the importance of toilets and sanitation — we can improve the health and well-being of one-third of the human family,” Ban said. “That is the goal of World Toilet Day.”
In a statement released to coincide with World Toilet Day, South Africa sanitation company Initial noted the plight of “underprivileged parts of Cape Town through stories in the media.”
“Decent toilets are therefore the first step to a healthier life, greater human dignity, freedom, equality between women, men, girls and boys, and act as a catalyst to the development of communities and countries,” the statement continued.
World Toilet Day comes just after Global Handwashing Day, which was observed on Oct. 15. Both commemorative days seek essentially the same goal – the reduction of communicable diseases that are spread in poor sanitary conditions.
“Handwashing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year,” said The Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing with Soap (PPPHW) about Global Handwashing Day. “Together, they are responsible for the majority of all child deaths. Yet, despite its lifesaving potential, handwashing with soap is seldom practiced and difficult to promote.”
According to a 2008 study from a team of Nigerian researchers, proper handwashing with soap could protect about 1-in-3 young children from getting sick with diarrhea.