November 19th is World Toilet Day, an international day of recognition started in 2001 to highlight one of the world’s biggest problems — inadequate sanitation for 2.5 billion people. Unfortunately, millions of people dying from poor sanitation is no laughing matter. One in three people do not have a safe, clean and private toilet.
Most of the people without access to a clean toilet live in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. Illnesses that are a direct result of bad sanitation affect the quality of life of millions of people around the world, especially children. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrheal diseases alone are responsible for the deaths of 2 million people every year, and it’s estimated that 88% of those deaths are attributable to unsafe water supply, sanitation and hygiene. Diarrheal diseases are the second most common cause of death of young children in developing countries, killing more than HIV/AIDS, malaria and measles combined, and resulting in 1 death every 20 seconds.
The positive effects of a clean toilet on society lead to a healthy life, greater human dignity, freedom, equality between women, men, girls and boys, and finally, a catalyst to the development of communities and countries. There is a strong link between the absence of good sanitation and poverty. The economic growth in Europe and North America went hand in hand when the sanitary conditions improved markedly, resulting in individual health gains and increased labor productivity. Toilets are a symbol of better health, higher income, more education, higher social status and a cleaner living environment.
During this Thanksgiving week, let’s be thankful to our access to clean, private, and sanitary toilet facilities. In the meantime, take a moment to consider global sanitation and how you can help: http://www.worldtoiletday.org/learn.php