This year, World Toilet Day falls on the 19th of November and it’s aiming to raise awareness about the current global sanitation crisis.
In the western world we may take our bathroom facilities for granted but a whopping 2.4 billion people around the world still don’t have access to proper toilet facilities. As well as what should be a basic human right, access to a proper toilet and sanitation is vital to our health and wellbeing.
Why is this day so important?
In 2015, The Sustainable Development Goals were launched in a bid to ensure that everybody in the world has access to a toilet by 2030. World Toilet Day is helping this goal to be realised by raising awareness about how sanitation, or the lack of it, can impact on people’s livelihoods and even cost them their lives.
Every year the campaign runs a different theme and for 2016 it’s ‘toilets and jobs.’ We may not realise it, but toilets play a crucial role in creating a strong economy. A lack of facilities in the workplace can have a severe impact on businesses because it causes problems amongst workers including poor health, absenteeism, attrition, reduced concentration, exhaustion and decreased productivity.
The luxuries we have in the western world mean that we’re often completely oblivious to the issues that people in poorer parts of the world face. World Toilet Day helps to raise awareness about life-threatening issues that we would otherwise have no way of knowing about. The more knowledgeable people are, the more they can help and the sooner sanitation issues will no longer be a problem.
Did you know for example that:
- Disease transmission at work, mostly caused by poor sanitation and hygiene practices causes 17% of all workplace deaths? (International Labour Organization)
- Loss of productivity due to illnesses caused by lack of sanitation and poor hygiene practices is estimated to cost many countries up to 5% of GDP? (Hutton 2012)
- In India, the time spent looking for a toilet or finding somewhere to go in the open costs the economy over $10 billion every year in lost productivity? This is the equivalent to 20% of GDP (World Bank Group 2016)
- Diarrhoea caused by unsafe water, poor sanitation and hygiene is linked to 50% of child undernutrition which can lead to stunted physical and mental development? (WHO)
How to practice good bathroom hygiene
In the UK we’re lucky enough to have access to safe water and sanitation every single day of our lives. This doesn’t mean that we can’t suffer from illnesses if we don’t incorporate good bathroom hygiene practices into our routine however. In order to do this, ensure that you always:
- Wash your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 15 seconds after using the bathroom
- Dry your hands thoroughly using a hand dryer or paper towel. Unbeknown to many, wet hands harbour a huge amount of bacteria
- You can’t avoid touching absolutely everything in a bathroom such as a door handle for example. Where you are given the option however, always try to use no touch soap dispensers, bins and hand dryers
- Always dispose of sanitary waste in the bins provided and never flush feminine hygiene products down the toilet