More than 1.5 million people die each year from diarrheal illnesses, including cholera, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which also noted that the disease “is alarmingly resurging in many countries.”
Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director General of the World Health Organization, announced this Saturday night in a video message on his official Twitter handle to commemorate World Toilet Day (WTD).
He continued by saying that nearly one in two people lack access to safe sanitation services and that one in five do not have access to a toilet.
Speaking further, he said: “health systems also struggle with the burden of increasingly resistant infections, girls drop out of school, and economies suffer.
“Today in the lead up to the UN 2023 conference on the water we’re launching the countdown to 2030 calling for a fourfold acceleration on sanitation.”
Sanitation in Africa
Additionally, Matshidiso Moeti, the WHO’s regional director for Africa, stated that 779 million people in Africa lack access to basic sanitation services.
In a press release honoring the 2022 World Toilet Day with the theme “Sanitation and Groundwater,” Ms. Moeti stated as much, adding that 208 million people still defecate in the open.
Every year on November 19, the WTD is observed.
According to her, “Access to safely managed sanitation services, in combination with safely managed drinking water services and good hygiene practices, is fundamental to ensuring public health. It leads to fulfilling the SDG 6 target and is essential for the realisation of all other sustainable development goals.
“Between 2000 and 2020, the population of Africa increased from 800 million to 1.3 billion. Some 290 million people gained access to at least basic sanitation services during that period.
“The WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme report on progress on drinking water and sanitation highlights the fact that only 29 per cent of health care facilities in Africa have basic sanitation services.
“According to the Joint Monitoring Programme 2020 data, 33 per cent of households in Africa have basic sanitation services, with 21 per cent using safely managed sanitation facilities. Two out of three people lack safely managed sanitation services.”
Safe toilet by 2030
The head of WHO Africa continued, “Africa must work on average four times faster to ensure everyone has a safe toilet by 2030 as the relationship between sanitation and groundwater cannot be ignored.”
She continued by stating that areas with high densities of people, pit latrines, and septic tanks placed close to water sources that draw from shallow aquifers pose potential health risks.
“For women and girls, in particular, toilets at home, school, and at work help them fulfil their potential and play their full role in society, especially during menstruation and pregnancy.
“The indignity, inconvenience, and danger of not having access to safely managed sanitation is a barrier to their full participation in society.
“Toilets drive improvements in health, gender equality, education, economics, and the environment,” she noted.
Ms Moeti also suggested that the link between groundwater and sanitation needs to be strengthened through inclusive policy and coordinated implementation.
“Thus, cooperation between policymakers, water resource, sanitation specialists and practitioners should be increased,” she said.