Poor Sanitation – The Wall Between The Healthy And The Unhealthy


WHO defines the word ‘Sanitation’ as the maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as garbage collection and waste water disposal. It is the means of promoting health through prevention of human contact with the hazards of wastes.
Through extensive promotions schemes now everybody seems to be fond of the word ‘sanitation’ but it shares its fate with Stephen Hawking; everyone knows about it, everyone talks about it but deep down do they really care or even understand. It’s hot trend right now. Even the UN declared 2008 as “The International Year of Sanitation”.
So, what’s the problem?
It’s no biggie, as always the blame boils down to the unaware and ignorant people.
India is the perfect example of poor sanitation. Waste disposal is at its worst. Few days back during the Municipality strikes, garbage were lying and rotting for days in the open – a lottery day for the sewer animals. Sewers or ‘nullas’ are blocked round the year spewing toxins into the roads. Washing of hands is childish tradition – we are too protein starved to let the rich bacteria and epi cells in ours palms go. According to some recent studies, in metros indoor pollution is as high as outdoors – days of oxygen cylinders are not far away. Even with a huge drive to discourage outdoor pissing, not a day passes when we get a free ticket to watch an entire waterfall take birth and die – how sad! The high and mighty laugh at those who defecate in the open but themselves hide the sorry state of their own home environment. Tuberculosis is rising to epic proportions all with the help if open spitting grounds and lack of general etiquettes. Each year lakhs of children die because of unhygienic water and food supplies
In India, with such a large population, I understand it’s a huge logistical problem to disseminate information. Steps are being taken through the fabled health missions but its need to be boosted. Nearly all the problems in the developing nations can be pointed towards poor sanitation. Poor sanitation leads to diseases and deaths and various morbidities. They lead poor productivity which reinforces poor sanitation. So, this cycle needs to be broken. All the unaware and ignorant people need to be enlightened about this. NHM should redirect the energy of ASHA workers towards this end. The society as a whole needs to understand this. One rotten apple rots the whole basket. One unhygienic family can expose the whole colony. Recently the Australian Govt. withdrew welfare
support of families of unvaccinated children. Such drastic steps are unnecessary here but we cannot afford to stand still.

With such standards as ours we surely cannot achieve a perfectly healthy society and catch up with the developed nations but it all can be changed. If we are supposed to achieve all goals set by vision 2020; its not too late, there is still time but we need to act now or it will be too late. Previously I blamed the unaware and ignorant people themselves for the sorry state we are in but they themselves will be our greatest strength of enlightened. If we don’t die of global warming, poor sanitation and its descendants will surely finish us off.

[This article was sent by Roshan Sahu as a part of ‘Zigverve Creative Writing Contest’]