There can never be sustainable growth and development in a country that is unable to take care of its waste appropriately and until we are able to take care of our “shit” properly we can say goodbye to prosperity; it will forever remain the Golden Fleece that eludes us.
In a country where 22% of the population practice open defaecation daily and ONLY 14.9% have access to household toilets, it is long overdue that we enforce at least one toilet per house as emphasized in the National Sanitation Campaign launched by president Akufo-Addo on 13th November 2017 just six days shy of World Toilet Day. We all remember clearly that in 2012, President John Mahama also launched the National Sanitation Programme. So it is clear that we all agree on the need to improve sanitation yet we find ourselves getting worse by the day. Indiscipline has been our worst enemy and until we change our attitude we unfortunately will continue fighting a losing battle.
We have not been spared the immediate implications of poor sanitation such as frequent cases of cholera leading to death, yet we soldier on with no direct action to improve our lot. Open defaecation is most widespread in countries that also have the highest number of deaths in children less than 5 years. In addition malnutrition, poverty and large disparities in wealth characterize such countries. Such descriptions may sound like they belong to war-thorn countries et cetera but a middle-income country has no business flirting with such statistics.
Consider the many cases of diarrhoea in the country and think about the fact that in many cases of diarrhoea, one may directly or indirectly have eaten shit (pardon my language but it delivers the message better). When over 90% of faeces is improperly disposed off in a country, what else could we expect? Water bodies, drains, open spaces etc. bear the brunt of fresh human faeces and many more. These eventually end up in our drinking water and food in an attempt to add flavor to even a bland meal. We all contribute to this: I am sure your favourite way-side meal is close to a gutter or public toilet facility. Do prove me wrong.
November 19th is WORLD TOILET DAY and this year the focus is on “WASTEWATER.”
By 2030 the sustainable development goals aim to reach everyone with sanitation and halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse.
To achieve the above ideal, we need to ensure that all the faeces that we generate is CONTAINED, TRANSPORTED, TREATED AND DISPOSED of in a safe and sustainable way. This is certainly an uphill task when worldwide over a billion people “enjoy” the “freeness” of open defaecation and almost 4 billion people do not have adequate sanitation. But, where there is a will, there always is a way.
TAKE A MOMENT TO DIGEST THESE
World Toilet Day aims to raise awareness about poor sanitation and defaecation in the open, we continue to discuss these issues very often and may even have taken some steps but it is time to ENFORCE the laws to ensure we can escape from the poverty we have brought upon ourselves by simply having no regard for proper management of our own waste.
We live in and see the harm that poor sanitation causes on a daily basis. It’s long overdue for each of us to do our bit while those tasked with planning, implementing and making funds available stop shortchanging us.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials/St. Andrews Clinic
Dr Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy and fitness nutrition.
Thought for the week – “We have a moral imperative to end open defecation and a duty to ensure women and girls are not at risk of assault and rape simply because they lack a sanitation facility. - Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, November 2014, World Toilet Day.”
“The health of the people of this country is as much a part of our resource as our cocoa and mineral wealth.” – Dr. Kofi Busia (recently quoted by president Nana Akufo-Addo)