“Sanitation” can be defined as a process of effectively managing the collection, treatment, disposal, reuse, recycling of human, solid, water and industrial wastes, sewage effluents and various other hazardous wastes like the hospital, chemical and radioactive elements. Sanitation is closely related to hygiene and public health. Lack of sanitation not only has economic consequences but also has severe social consequences. One of the major issues that India is still deficit in is cleanliness and sanitation. The various reasons for lack of proper sanitation in our country are as follows;
- High birth rate and fast growth of population-People staying in poor households located in crowded, unhealthy surroundings are most vulnerable to catch harmful diseases. Population growth makes it more difficult to provide sufficient water supply, safe garbage disposal, sanitation and medical facilities to the community. This eventually affects the health of the underprivileged people.
- Illiteracy and ignorance- Ignorant of the importance of health and hygiene the underprivileged people become more susceptible to diseases. Illiteracy also makes them unaware about the harmful effects of living in unhealthy surroundings and exposes them to life threatening diseases.
- Lack of clean water-The contamination of food, water, soil with human waste is a cause of a number of diseases. Lack of clean drinking water is one of the main reasons for the spread of diseases and its insufficient availability for personal hygiene is adding fuel to the fire. India, having 14% of world’s total population suffers by 50% of world’s total diseases due to poor sanitation.
- Inadequate trained human resources-This is an important reason for lack of sanitation among the people in our country. The less privileged section of our society is not only unaware about the importance of health and hygiene but they also do not receive proper information or training regarding the ways of maintaining personal hygiene and clean environment.
The issue of poor sanitation is not only limited to health and nutrition but throws its adverse effects on the economy and development of the country. It requires substantial resources, time and investment to bring about a lasting change in the behaviour of the people and adoption of key hygiene practices at the community and household level. The various ways of overcoming the problem are as follows;
- Spreading awareness- It is very important to make the people aware of the harmful effects of living in unhygienic conditions. Mass media, one on one interaction or training camps should be used as a tool to spread awareness about the importance of health and hygiene.
- Health Education-Health education builds knowledge about maintaining a positive attitude about health. It teaches people about the importance of health and hygiene and the effective ways of maintaining it. A major benefit of health education is it motivates people to maintain hygiene and also reduces the risk of diseases.
- Increase of literacy rate-Educated people are aware of the severity of the effects of population growth in our society. Making people aware of the various ways to control population like the usage of contraceptives and other birth control measures will make them understand the urgent need to prevent excessive growth of population. It shall also highlight the harmful effects it has on the health and hygiene of the people in general.
Initiatives must be taken by the government, various NGO’s and the people in general to make the society a cleaner and healthier place to live in.