World Toilet Day
It’s World Toilet Day today. Happy World Toilet Day!
But before we start groaning about “yet another day for this and that” or stifle a sniggering comment about such days being “at your convenience” or it being a “flush in the pan” there is a serious message.
The day has been launched by the World Toilet Organisation to remind we westerners that some 2.6 billion people across the world have no sanitisation: no access to a loo at home or in their community.
This lack of facilities has appalling consequences: five million children die every year from diarrhoea and other diseases for the want of basic hygiene. It is startling to realise that if children’s faeces were disposed of safely, we could reduces the incidences of childhood diarrhoea by 40 per cent.
There are environmental concerns, too: while more than one billion people are served by sewerage systems, but much of it is discharged into rivers, lakes and the sea with little or no treatment.
Every year, 200 million tons of human waste remains uncollected and untreated around the world, which not only fouls waterways and the land, but exposes millions of people to diseases.
The WTO, a global non-profit organisation, was founded in 2001 and focuses solely on improving sanitation and toilets. There are now 151 member organisations in 53 countries which are committed to ensuring clean facilities are available for all.
But it isn’t just poor countries where toilet hygiene is important. In the UK, campaigns have been launched to increase the number of conveniences.
Since 2000, about 16 per cent of public loos have closed – because local authorities are no longer required to provide. This may change, as some MPs are demanding that the Government orders councils to provide facilities.
Some councils may find it cheaper to pay shops etc to open their toilets to the public than reinstate toilets that they have to maintain and clean. In Richmond upon Thames, for example, 69 restaurants, pubs, shops and offices are paid £600 every year to allow the general public to use their toilets.
All very well, but remember this: complacent attitudes towards hygiene lead to disease.
Astonishingly, one in six adults has admitted to not washing their hands after they have been to the toilet.
This means germs from the toilet can easily spread from hands into the food we eat – and that leads to gastrointestinal infections.
And if you do wash your hands, it is important that they are dried properly, too as wet hands pick up more germs than dry ones.
According to the Royal Society for Public Health, hand washing and drying could reduce up to half of all acute respiratory infections in this country, which would lead to an £80 million saving on GP consultations every year.
Makes you think, doesn’t it?
Stats to make you think:
On average, one house produces more than one tonne of faeces every year (Water Aid)
One gram of human faeces can contain 10,000,000 viruses, 1,000,000 bacteria, 1000 parasite cysts, 100 parasite eggs. (UNICEF)
Hand-washing with soap after using a toilet can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea by up to 47 per cent (UN)
884 million people do not have access to safe water
60 milllion children are born every year into households that have no hygiene facilities
The average European uses 200 litres of water every day (Americans, 400 litres). In the developing world, the average person uses ten litres per day for washing, cleaning, cooking and drinking. (Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council).