Sanitation and hygiene are important to prevent the transmission of infectious, potentially fatal diseases. These include cholera, diarrhoea, dysentery (bloody, mucoid stools), hepatitis A and typhoid fever.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sanitation relates to the provision of facilities and services for the safe management of human waste. Over half the deaths caused by diarrhoeal disease is due to poor sanitation. They also estimate that almost 300 000 deaths of children under 5 could be prevented with better water, sanitation and hygiene habits.
Wondering how you can improve sanitation in your own home?
Baby Soft spoke to Dr Nokukhanya Kanyile, who shared these 5 tips you can implement – starting today:
If you share a toilet with others, make sure you wipe the seat clean before and after you use the bathroom. If each person makes it their responsibility to clean the bathroom, it could minimise the spread of germs.
Use a disinfectant to clean your toilet at least twice a week. This will help kill bacteria and also help improve the smell of the bathroom. Over 77 000 organisms can be found in any bathroom such as influenza, streptococcus, E. coli, hepatitis, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), salmonella, shigella and norovirus. The standard bathroom disinfectant should be able to kill the majority of these organisms. However, you should keep your bathroom clean to reduce the number of organisms in the environment that can cause disease.
Always wash both hands thoroughly with soap and water after you’ve been to the toilet. The most common places that are missed during washing are in between your fingers and the back of your hands, which act as a breeding ground for bacteria to grow. Failing to wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet contributes to the high burden of disease caused by intestinal worms, which are transmitted between people with poor hygiene and sanitation.
Good hand hygiene should include drying your hands thoroughly, and not just washing them. Damp hands spread more germs than dry hands.
Encourage those around you to practise these health tips at every opportunity. Good habits make for good behaviour, which leads to better sanitation for everyone.
Improving sanitation has many benefits. These include reducing diarrhoea, as well as multiple illnesses that can cause stunting and malnutrition in children. It can also reduce health costs associated with hospital admission or absenteeism from work due to illness. By improving the health of the population, we increase the amount of days we spend at school or work, which contributes to the health of the economy. This World Toilet Day ensure you inform yourself and those around you to do the right thing to protect your loved ones.