Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Posts Tagged ‘health

World Toilet Day

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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).

egg donation

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This week a campaign begun to encourage more women to donate their eggs for those who cannot conceive.

 

There has long been a shortage of egg donors in this country and statistics have shown that it would take just 0.01% of the fertile population to satisfy demand.

 

This is a debate that has long interested me and simultaneously infuriated me.

 

Admittedly, it was a subject I didn’t know much about when I had my first child nine years ago. But when my second-born arrived in 2001, it was on my radar and my awareness increased.

 

As a mother, I understood the deep joy that came with having a baby. I was lucky: I had conceived easily and the pregnancies had run fairly smoothly.

 

To hold my own child brought so much joy: like every new parent, I felt as if my life was now complete. I was a mother and I couldn’t imagine not having them.

 

But there was a nagging at the back of my mind. What of the women who couldn’t fulfil their dream?

 

I wanted these women who were desperate for their own child to feel what I was lucky enough to have experienced. I wanted to donate my eggs.

 

The question of payment never entered my head. I recall being surprised that some countries did pay. This would be an altruistic act. Of course, there was an element of selfishness to it: I knew it would make me feel worthwhile. I wasn’t going to shout it from the rooftops or wear a t-shirt bearing the details of what I was doing, but perhaps there would be a small sense of smugness about my charitable act.

 

I began to research the procedure. I understood that there would be procedures to suppress the menstrual cycle, learned about the daily injections to increase egg production, the possible side effects of bleeding and infection, the scans, the internal examinations. I even knew there was a small risk of mortality if the ovaries were over stimulated.

 

But I was convinced this was the right thing to do. As far as I was concerned, it was the ultimate gift. I was keen to get started and, as the cut-off age for donating eggs is 35 I knew that I had limited time to get the process underway.

 

As I picked up the telephone to call a fertility clinic close to my home, I remember being simultaneously terrified and excited. Surely, knowing the shortage of donors, they would have me in the clinic for a consultation quickly?

 

I was amazed at the reaction. Initially, the woman with whom I had a conversation was pleased that there was a potential donor. She took basic details: name and age, whether or not I’d had children. She said someone would call me back.

 

No one did. A few weeks later, I made another call and explained again that I was interested in donating eggs. Again, there was a promise of a telephone call. It never came.

 

I was appalled. I made one more attempt: more promises. More broken promises: no phone call.

 

So much for third time lucky. It was the last call I made to the clinic. I’d two small children to look after and time ran out for me to do anything about donating eggs.

 

I was frustrated that I couldn’t do what I wanted to do. But, more than that, I was disappointed that I had let down a woman who wanted her own baby. I could have helped her

 

Written by CommonPeople

October 24, 2008 at 12:58 pm