Today, 7Th April, is World Health Day. World Health Day is a global day of health awareness. Our post discusses six things to make you think, on this World Health Day 2017.
World Health Day celebrates the anniversary of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The WHO is the health arm of the UN, and its mission is to shape a healthier future for people around the world (WHO 2017).
1. POOR SANITATION CAUSES POOR HEALTH.
Sanitation has a measurable and observable relationship with health. Open defecation and inadequate sanitation (e.g. poorly maintained pit latrines and septic tanks) contaminate local drinking water. Contaminated waters transmit diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio (WHO 2016). 90% of global deaths due to diarrhoea can be attributed to inadequate sanitation, unsafe water, and poor hygiene (Unicef).
2. GOOD SANITATION HELPS TO FOSTER GOOD HEALTH AND WELLBEING.
Access to a safe, clean toilet can have a positive affect upon a person’s health. On average, access to ‘improved sanitation’ reduces illness by 32% (The Lancet 2005). The humble toilet is more powerful that you had originally thought! Slum communities in Puducherry where our GroSan Toilets have been installed, are healthier as a result of having access to improved sanitation. They have seen a 17% decrease in cases of diarrhoea.
3. GOOD, BASIC HEALTH IS A PREREQUISITE TO ESCAPING POVERTY.
If people are healthier, they can attend more days in school and/or work and they spend less on healthcare, thereby increasing their disposable income. Families in Puducherry that use our GroSan Toilets have 34% more disposable income than before. They also spend 42% less on healthcare.
4. “THERE IS NO HEALTH WITHOUT MENTAL HEALTH” (WHO)
This year, World Health Day is shining a spotlight on mental health. Its aims are to raise awareness about mental health and encourage people living with mental illness to seek help.
Did you know that …
Close to 10% of the world’s population is affected by one or both of depression and anxiety (WHO 2017)
75% of people living with mental illness live in the developing world (Basic Needs 2017)
There is a strong correlation between poverty and mental illness
5. “LACK OF SANITATION HAS IMPORTANT IMPLICATIONS FOR THE MENTAL…HEALTH OF WOMEN IN RURAL INDIA” (SHARE and WSSCC 2017)
Looking for a place in the open to relieve yourself can be extremely stressful.
Although the correlation between poor sanitation and mental health is less documented than its relationship with physical health, it is still extremely important. Having no option but to defecate in the open or use an unsafe, unsanitary latrine can be incredibly stressful. Overtime, these daily stresses are likely to impact a person’s long-term mental (and physical) wellbeing (SuSanA 2017). This is especially true for women. One study found that for women without access to improved sanitation, defecation and menstrual management were actions they found amongst the most stressful. Their main anxieties were related to “being subject to teasing, sexual harassment, suspicion, and violence, and…feelings of humiliation, insecurity, distress, and even suicidal thoughts” (PhD 2015).
6. “NOW THAT THE NEW SANITARY BLOCK HAS BEEN CONSTRUCTED … MY HEALTH IS SLOWLY IMPROVING”
Asiga, an 8th grade student attending school in Cuddalore, tells Sanitation First about the affect that poor sanitation had upon her physical and mental health, and why having a new sanitation block at school has made such a positive difference:
“Because of the very poor, unclean sanitation facilities at school, I generally avoided using them altogether. I began drinking less and less water so that I didn’t have to go to the toilet at school or in the open spaces behind school. As a result, I started getting severe abdominal pain and often had to miss school. The doctor told me that I had an accumulation of salts in my urinary tract. The pain was worse when I was on my period, and I almost started thinking of committing suicide.
Now that the new sanitary block has been constructed at school, I am drinking more water and using the toilets at school. My health is slowly improving and the severe pains have gone. I am more comfortable and happy to have such a good facility.”
Good sanitation helps to foster good health and wellbeing, therefore, in terms of both physical and mental health.
For more information of World Health Day 2017, please visit their website.
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