A blogging contest reminded me that my country is sipping chilled 'whatever' of 21st century and yet, 597 million of my Indian brothers and sisters (this address helps in establishing a quick and warm rapport with the mob, never mind!) are pooing in open... Ah what a national shame! The data was interesting enough to engage me in a brief investigation on this subject. A recent report prepared jointly by WHO and UNICEF states that out of 1 billion people worldwide defecating in open, India successfully tops the leaderboard. Saddest part is not the problem itself, but, despite this huge population of open defecators, along with Indonesia and Nigeria, India seems least bothered by this public health issue! Since the starting of this month I've been devoting time on health related topics, so, half of my countrymen choosing to “go to the fields” bothered me, i.e.- this time I opted to write for “Indiblogger Happy Hours” topic not for the innocent greed of shopping voucher... Seriously guys, open defecation is a potent source as well as mode of infection and at the same time it pollutes the environment. Thus it is a genuine public health menace which needs to be addressed right now.
Open defecation is apparently more natural, cheap, headache-free and kind of cool too (please don't ask me how is it cool)... Then what is the Health Problem with Open Defecation?
Problems are plenty:
* It pollutes soil.
* It pollutes water too.
* It contaminates foods through dust and insects.
* Facilitates breeding and propagation of disease-gifting “Santa with wings” called flies.
Generally you end up with tummy ailments (intestinal infections) with some sophisticated but familiar names:
* Hookworm/ Roundworm disease
* and many more...
Studies indicate that every year about 5 million people in India die in one of these diseases and another 50 million take their blow totally unguarded!
How this Open Defecation thing is causing Diseases?
Assume Person A is sick and pooing in the open field. Infectious agents passing through his stool would contaminate the surrounding and when our Babli (the prototype rural girl) is going to defecate in the same or a nearby place, she is acquiring the infection through water, soil, finger, flies and several other modes. Thus the disease of Person A is spreading slowly in his entire community and the actual culprit is not a person or germs, but an unhygienic practice- the Open Defecation!
So, how to Prevent these Diseases?
Certainly prevention is better than cure, more so in a country like India. We can take different measures like- safeguard water supplies, protect foods from contamination, control insects (especially flies), improve personal hygiene etc, but the easiest and most cost-effective measure would be to eradicate open defecation practice by setting up sanitary latrines. I was happy to find that Unilever Foundation and Domex have collaborated with UNICEF in their Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS) programs “ to improve the health and well-being of those in need and create sustainable approaches to improved sanitation through programs that promote good hygiene practices, improve the health and well-being of communities, help create demand for access to toilets and raise awareness of the sanitation crisis”. Hindustan Unilever Lever has announced the launch of Domex Toilet Academy on 19th November to observe the World Toilet Day and also aims to set up 24,000 toilets by 2015 in all needy areas where open defecation continues to be a threat to public health.
What you can Do right now?
Please do your bit by spreading awareness on healthy sanitary habits and hazards of open defecation. You can bring about the change in the lives of millions of kids, thereby showing your support for the Domex Initiative. All you need to do is 'click' on the “Contribute Tab” on www.domex.in and Domex will contribute Rs. 5 on your behalf to eradicate open defecation, thereby helping kids like Babli live a disease-free and dignified life.