Toilet Rath (Chariot) to Reduce Disease Burden

New Delhi, November 19: Open defecation in India is the prime source of disease burden. Germs in the feces strike at the very foundation of health in the villages of India.

Every household having toilet will mean a substantial reduction in the disease burden. On the occasion of World Toilet Day in Delhi, Sulabh International, a pioneer in toilet movement in India, promised to visit every village to spread awareness about the dangers of open defecation. A ‘Sulabh Swachhata Rath’ was flagged off today.

Sulabh International founder and icon of sanitation in India was flanked by Delhi BJP President Satish Upadhyaya and BJP MP from UP, Jagadambika Pal atop the Rath on the occasion.

Satish Upadhyaya said, ‘Making toilets available for every family is one of the most important tasks of the central government. Sanitation is key to healthy life and that is why PM Modi has called to make it into a movement.’

The function was part of the three-day International Toilet Festival (Nov 18-20) organized by the Sulabh International to mark World Toilet Day. During the campaign, an eco-friendly bus equipped with solar panels and screens will go to villages across the country to show movies which will create awareness about the importance of toilets.

Bindeshwar Pathak, founder of Sulabh International, said: ‘The motive of such initiatives is to make people more and more aware about toilets. It is a fact that lack of toilets in every house, especially in the villages and rural areas, is a curse for the people.’

Mr. Pathak said, ‘Sulabh International is doing everything it can for the cause. However, it had certain limitations which can be fulfilled by the government.

Feces contain germs that stuck onto children’s fingers and feet, enter into their food and water. Flies take them everywhere to contaminate the environment. Exposure to these germs not only gives children diarrhea, but over a long time, also causes changes in the tissues of their intestines that prevent the absorption and use of nutrients in food, even when the child does not seem sick. Stunting in India is not so much because of hunger as it is due to contamination by feces. Childhood is the age when the foundation of health is created but feces spoil that period in Indian villages.

More than half of all people in the world who defecate in the open live in India. According to the 2011 Indian census, 53 per cent of households do not use any kind of toilet or latrine. Open defecation is not so common elsewhere. The list of African countries with lower percentage rates of open defecation than India includes Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and more.

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