TOOWOOMBA, Qld -- More people will die from diseases linked to lack of toilets and poor sanitation than from COVID-19 this year, a leading humanitarian agency has warned.
So far this year, more than 1.2 million deaths worldwide have been attributed to the pandemic, but it’s likely millions more will die from exposure to diseases carried by human waste -- diseases that don’t make the headlines.
As millions across the developing world relieve themselves in the open, raw sewage spawns a multitude of deadly diseases. Excrement attracts flies that quickly spread diarrhoea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, polio, and hepatitis A.
UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency, says 2.2 million people worldwide will die this year from diarrhoea alone -- nearly double the number of COVID-19 deaths recorded so far.
Many of those deaths -- mostly children under five -- could be avoided if the world’s poor had access to safe, sanitary toilets and handwashing facilities, says GFA World, www.gfaau.org, a Australian-based Christian organisation that helps to build thousands of new toilets every year.
Report Reveals Toilet Misery
The misery of the 4.2 billion people -- over half the world’s population -- who don’t have a toilet at home, or safe sanitation, is revealed in a shocking new GFA World report, Fight Against Open Defecation Continues, marking World Toilet Day on Nov. 19.
Open defecation is when people go to the toilet outside in the open -- in the street, in a park, or by a river, for example -- a common practice in many poor countries. Just a fleck of human faeces might contain 100 million viruses, one million bacteria, and 1,000 parasites that can be transmitted through cuts, skin pores, contaminated water or food.
Even when people have access to public toilets, they’re often unsafe, conditions can be horrible, and many people don’t use them. In many Asia megacities, latrines often flush into open drains that flow along the streets.
“For billions of people around the world, simply going to the toilet is degrading, unhygienic and even dangerous,” said GFA World founder K.P. Yohannan. In 2018, a three-year-old South African boy fell into a feces-filled pit latrine and drowned. Others risk being attacked or sexually assaulted while using public toilets at night, so they relieve themselves in the open instead.
“It’s easy for us in Australia to never give it a second thought, because we don’t have to walk a mile or more to the nearest public toilet or pit latrine,” said Yohannan, author of Never Give Up.
‘Catastrophic Health Consequences’
The global “toilet tragedy” has caught the attention of Hollywood actor Matt Damon and India Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who’ve highlighted the catastrophic health consequences.
Dozens of international agencies are working on innovative solutions, including solar-powered toilets that convert human waste into fertilizer.
Last year, GFA World workers built more than 5,400 toilets and latrines across Asia and educated communities about the importance of using them. “I never imagined that we’d measure the impact of our Christian faith by the number of toilets we build,” said Yohannan, “but the reality is that people see from our actions that God’s people really do care about them.”
GFA World, www.gfaau.org is a leading faith-based mission agency, helping national workers bring vital assistance and spiritual hope to millions, especially to those who have yet to hear about the love of God. In GFA World’s latest yearly report, this included more than 70,000 sponsored children, free medical camps conducted in more than 1,200 villages and remote communities, over 4,800 clean water wells drilled, over 12,000 water filters installed, income-generating Christmas gifts for more than 260,000 needy families, and spiritual teaching available in 110 languages in 14 nations through radio ministry. For all the latest news, visit our Press Room at https://press.gfa.org/news.
Gregg WoodingM: +0111 972-567-7660
Susan WhitmanP: 0746324131
M: +0111 972-567-7660
Javier MendozaW: www.gfaau.org/
John BolithoW: www.gfaau.org