If the call of nature is a common thing in humanity, man cannot be too careful in addressing the issue of toilet towards healthy living and mankind’s survival.
Sequel to this, the United Nations (UN) officially recognised November 19 as World Toilet Day which is aimed at inspiring actions to tackle the global sanitation crisis, increase public awareness on the importance of having hygienic toilets and support concerted efforts to widen access for people worldwide to having hygienic toilets.
Hygienic toilet has figured prominently in the safety and survival of lives at both local and international levels. Access to hygienic toilets has been likened to access to life because it saves lives.
Hygienic toilet prevents environment from being contaminated by human waste, slow the infection cycle of disease outbreaks that can cause widespread illness and death as well as improve health.
The importance of hygienic toilets lies in an effort to prevent diseases which can be transmitted through human waste, which afflict both the developing and under-developed countries.
Today, it is unfortunate that some people are still ‘forced’ to defecate in the open due to lack of access to hygienic toilets which are major causes of diseases outbreak and threat to public health.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) , around 60% of the global population – i.e. 4.5 billon people either have no toilets at home or cannot safely manage excreta; that 862 million people worldwide still defecate in the open, for example, in some gutters, bushes or into open bodies of water especially in the rural areas.
Open defecation perpetuates a vicious cycle of disease and seriously undermines progress in health and child survival. According to the UN, the countries where open defecation is widespread have highest number of deaths of children aged under five years as well as the highest levels of malnutrition and poverty.
The United Nations shared that over 300,000 children are dying yearly from diarrhea caused by poor sanitation while a lot of toilet infections were being contacted in poorly managed toilets. Influenza (flu), shigella bacteria, norovirus and gardnerella also known as bacterial vaginasis mostly found in women are examples of toilet infections.
In Nigeria, many private and public institutions such as schools, offices, bus stations (garages), police stations, court and other government institutions, toilets do not receive proper attention as compared to the rest of the buildings.
It must be noted that no matter how beautiful the building or premises are, if the toilets are dirty, the country is seen as backward. Therefore, there must be an increase in public awareness on the importance of having hygienic toilets.
Despite the fact that statistics have shown that the number of people gaining access to improved sanitation and hygienic toilets have risen from 54% to 68%, some 2.3 billion people still do not have toilets or improved latrines. Therefore, government must mobilise the communities especially in rural areas to adopt safe disposal of human excreta and implement policies that will ensure strict adherent to environment.
Besides, health officials must be empowered to carry out regular inspections of toilets, soak-away pits and ensure a tidy environment.
Mobile toilets should also be constructed and placed in public places especially in motor parks. However, the public toilets must be neatly used by people and there must be workers specifically assigned to clean these toilets so as to ensure cleanliness throughout the day.
Both private and public institutions such as schools, offices, police stations, courts, ministries and other government institutions, toilets must be given adequate attention with frequent water supply and provision of disinfectants.
Individuals who make use of the toilets must observe the general rule of toilets etiquette such as flushing of the toilet after use and washing of hands with soap and water.
Folake Majekodunmi, Ibara Housing Estate, Abeokuta