November 19th is World Toilet Day - a day to celebrate the importance of improved hygiene and sanitation and to help raise awareness for the 2.5 billion (we're talking nearly half the world's population) who currently live in unsanitary conditions.
What Does 'Improved Sanitation' Mean?
'Improved Sanitation' is described as a sanitation facility that ensures the hygienic separation of human excreta from human contact - like a bathroom. It may be suprising to know that without access to this type of facility, over 1 billion people still practice open defecation.
Why Access to Hygiene and Sanitation is so Important
Lack of sanitation is the world's leading cause of infection. If we all washed our hands before eating and after going to the bathroom, we would reduce our chance of getting sick by 33 per cent!
As the recent cholera outbreak in Haiti has shown, unsanitary conditions not only increase the chance that people will get sick, but also that disease will spread.
What is Cholera?
The World Health Organization (WHO) describes cholera as an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. If left untreated, the disease can kill within hours. WHO estimates 3 to 5 million cholera cases and 100,000 to 200,000 deaths due to cholera every year. To date, the outbreak in Haiti has claimed the lives of over 1,000 people.
What Can You Do?
For many of us, conversations about the details - and impacts - of proper hygiene and sanitation may be a little uncomfortable, however, by raising awareness we can help change attitudes, bring much-needed attention and motivate others to do the same!
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Learn the Facts about access to clean water, improved sanitation and proper hygiene
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