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Public Health in our localities

Public Health in our localities

Public Health in our localities

Maintaining public health is tenacious in many developing countries including India. We are surrounded by daffy traditions, ideologies and stigma that are tough to eradicate. Public Health issues can be triggered in two simple yet major ways: poor sanitation and personal hygiene. These, in turn, can create the situations we’re all currently living in. India has seen many years under dirt and poor hygiene which lead to a huge death and mortality rate, but it is all beginning to change. The government and several non – profit organizations have invested a lot of resources in educating people about the importance of correct sanitation and public toilets but these issues continue to persist. Why?

Officially, Mumbai has been declared ODF or Open Defecation Free but is that the true reality? According to our research, many citizens are not utilizing the 100,000 toilets that have been installed across Mumbai alone. The reasons for this is

  1. The toilets are unclean
  2. Not enough toilets in a nearby proximity
  3. No maintenance
  4. Defiance to pay-per-use toilets

According to Ganga, the domestic helper in Zara’s house, approximately 100 people share six bathrooms three for males and three for females; it is horrifying to compare this figure to the lavish situations in each of our homes. How does this affect the sanitation of each person living in the slum and also every person they come in contact with?

In other circumstances, they do not have the most important resource required in toilets, water. How does one use a toilet with no water?

In other conditions, many are either used to or are forced to defecate outside, some are scared to use toilets and some even do not know-how.

Mostly, people refuse to pay the 3-5 rupees charge in some toilets.

So, how do we solve this crisis?

The condition of Ganga’s safety and sanitation is very fragile and has an almost direct impact on everyone she comes in contact with.

Our solutions are rather easy, overlapping and creates a win-win scenario for everybody. As we discussed before, education and measures for sanitation are already being implemented, but just not as effectively as needed.

  1. The government needs to install more toilets in nearby proximities, approximately every two kilometres. So how do we convince the government to invest all this money? We open up paid jobs for the maintenance of the toilets and people who need money (like Ganga). This gets more taxpayers for the government and keeps the toilets clean and sanitized so that people are not disgusted to use them anymore. We need to show them the benefits of proper sanitation. This solution may already be in effect, but we need to increase it to huge numbers.
  2. Another method is raising awareness of this method. Not everyone understands the underlying threats and we need to change this. The best way to do this is a school festival for students of public schools in which parents are required to attend, during the event there will be regular activities and games but there will also be a presentation of the threats of improper sanitation on their families, this creates a snowball effect which helps spread this information to everyone
  3. Break the stigma, this is by far the toughest to do but the most important. We need to induce fear and we need them to know how dangerous open defecation can be. We need to challenge their ideology but in a safe and nurturing way.

The implementation can be immediate, but any significant impact will take a long time to be shown. How do we measure the difference? Each newly introduced toilet can have a system where people can be rewarded for using these toilets. The rewards can be as simple as sweets or as important as healthcare. In recurring time, we can calculate how many rewards have been given away and whether there are any significant changes.

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