Today is designated by the United Nations as the World Toilet Day in order to play up sanitation as necessary for family and national developments – but it also brings one fact to the fore: 2.5 billion out of the 7 billion people inhabiting the Earth lack basic toilet and latrine facilities – and this is contributory to the deaths of over 10 million children recorded every year.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) estimate that some 1.8 billion people consume water that is contaminated with human and animal feces – causing health problems and the outbreak of diseases among many households.

WaterAid estimates that nearly 508,000 children died in 2013 as a result of disease outbreaks that stem from water contamination and unsanitary environments, and the WHO adds that 88% of infant mortality arising from diarrhea and cholera are attributable to lack of access to basic sanitation, clean water, and proper hygiene. And according to Jack Sim, the Singapore-based founder of the World Toilet Organization, almost all of these children mortalities are actually “preventable deaths.”

Many countries like India suffer lack of access to antiseptic soaps and clean water to wash hands or even bathe, and this fuels the unsanitary practices like defecating in rivers and in the fields or even within residential compounds, leading to widespread diseases in family households, village communities, schools, and health centers. While the Indian government had set Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday in 2019 to achieve “total sanitation” for the 1.2 billion people of India, the country accounts for the 60% people that lack toilets in the world.

While lack of clean water, proper sanitation, and hygienic conditions have contributed to the spread of Ebola virus in West Africa, the use of rivers and fields for toilet purposes has caused considerable human excrement to go into polluting groundwater, waterways, and crops – causing diarrhea, cholera, and other diseases in India and other parts of the world.

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