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Hygiene in India

A survey revealed that only 32% of rural households have their own toilets and that less than half of Indian households have a toilet at home. In fact, the latest census data reveals that the percentage of households having access to television and telephones in rural India exceeds the percentage of households with access to toilet facilities. Shocking, isn’t it?

Nearly half of Indians defecate into the environment, which pollutes water and leads to the number one cause of diarrhea-associated deaths in children. Children who suffer from diarrhea are more susceptible to malnutrition and other illnesses, such as pneumonia. It’s no wonder then that malnutrition afflicts nearly 50 percent of children. Nearly 600 million people do not use toilets, and as a result, their waste enters the environment which leads to a higher likelihood of water contamination and diarrhea.

Many girls are likely to not attend school due to the lack of seclusion in the sanitation facilities. Other times, females feel discomfort when there is no facility available at home. For adolescent females, it is necessary to provide the essential facilities, products, and education to allow for proper menstrual hygiene.

Only 38 percent of people wash their hands before eating and as little as 30 percent wash their hands prior to handling food. Research indicates that a little over half of India’s population washes their hands after defecation. Young children are most susceptible to diarrheic diseases and respiratory infections, which highlights greater importance for a task as simple as washing hands.

Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this objective of improving hygiene in the country, there has been significant progress in making clean water and hygiene amenities available. In 2014, he began advocating to enhance cleanliness efforts by October 2019. Overall, clean drinking water and proper sewage disposal have improved from 39% in October 2014 to over 90% in August 2018. The amount of people living in agricultural areas who defecate openly has decreased from 550 million to 320 million.

These include community-led public-private partnerships to improve access to toilets and awareness campaigns in schools and slums in both urban and rural sectors. There is an urgent need for more such campaigns all across India. Until now, a number of innovative public health campaigns and programs to improve health and hygiene have been introduced. A lot has been done but we still have a long way to go to reach our goal of a completely hygienic country! Thus, we all should do our bit in helping keep the country clean and spread this knowledge as far as possible.

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