Sunday, November 18, 2018

Make toilets and safe sanitation services accessible to all: WHO

All people everywhere should have access to safe sanitation services, including hygienic toilets that are connected to quality sewage systems, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
For many people across the WHO South-East Asia Region, as across the world, access to these services nevertheless remains a problem, with 900 million region-wide lacking basic sanitation, and more than 500 million practicing open defecation, said WHO regional director for South-East Asia Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, on the occasion of World Toilet Day, tomorrow.
"It leads to increased human-feces contact and the transmission of a range of diseases, from cholera to typhoid and hepatitis A and E to tapeworm," she sadi, adding that in recent years member states have made significant progress. "Region-wide, urban coverage of basic sanitation is now close to 70 per cent."
In a majority of countries rural coverage exceeds 50 per cent. The share of the region’s population practicing open defecation has meanwhile been reduced from more than 50 per cent to less than 30 per cent, while several member states have achieved more than 90 per cent coverage of basic sanitation services. "Though these advances are to be commended, more than that, however, they must also be built on. The return on every dollar invested in safe sanitation is estimated to be nearly six times, due in large part to lower health costs, increased productivity and fewer premature deaths," she added.
First, health authorities should work across sectors to ensure all communities have access to toilets that adequately contain excreta. Of key importance is targeting communities in hard-to-reach areas, as well as those living informally in cities or urban zones.
Second, authorities should ensure all toilets are connected to services that provide safe sewage treatment and disposal. This means conducting health-risk assessments of sanitation systems on an ongoing basis, with issues or gaps remedied as a matter of priority. It also means engaging planning authorities at the local level to ensure this process is sustainable and that the environment remains free of human waste.
And third, health facilities themselves must provide safe and functional water, sanitation and hygiene services. Region-wide, too many facilities still lack these basic services, representing a missed opportunity to drive down health care-associated infections, reduce the length of hospital stays and decrease maternal and newborn deaths among other benefits.
WHO, according to her, is committed to supporting member states as they strive to make toilets and safe sanitation services accessible to all. "Doing so will help achieve several of the region’s own Flagship Priorities, as well as the wider Sustainable Development Agenda (SDG), including SDG 3 and 6, on health and sanitation respectively," she added. "Indeed, as World Toilet Day highlights, the benefits of access to toilets and safe sanitation for all are many and must be harnessed to maximum effect."

No comments: