Environmental sanitation is a major public health issue in India. It envisages promotion of health of the community by providing clean environment and breaking the cycle of disease. It depends on various factors that include hygiene status of the people, types of resources available, innovative and appropriate technologies according to the requirement of the community, socioeconomic development of the country, cultural factors related to environmental sanitation, political commitment, capacity building of the concerned sectors, social factors including behavioral pattern of the community, legislative measures adopted, etc.
India is still lagging far behind many countries in the field of environmental sanitation.
In developed countries almost everyone has access to a private flush toilet served by a continuous supply of piped water. Human waste is channeled by separate sewerage pipes, ensuring that drinking water is separated from pathogens carried in fecal material, and taps located in close proximity, enable people to maintain personal hygiene. Sanitation makes a positive contribution in family literacy. According to a UNICEF study, for every 10 per cent increase in female literacy, a country’s economy can grow by 0.3 per cent. Thus, sanitation contributes to social and economic development of the society. Improved sanitation also helps the environment.
India is lacking of scientific awareness of cleaning. One should not use same materials for cleaning. Floor cleaning and bathroom have different chemicals and way of cleaning them. A wiping cloth for table and table spoon should not be the same. This creates cross contamination. Creating awareness of such basic hygiene is important in the society.
Using proper toilets and hand washing – preferably with soap – prevents the transfer of bacteria, viruses and parasites found in human excreta which otherwise contaminate water resources, soil and food. This contamination is a major cause of diarrhea, the second biggest killer of children in developing countries, and leads to other major diseases such as cholera, schistosomiasis, and trachoma. Improving access to sanitation is a critical step towards reducing the impact of these diseases. It also helps create physical environments that enhance safety, dignity and self-esteem.
It has been observed that though some villages are declared open-defecation free, some of them revert back to open-defecation. The reasons are many. Firstly, there is lack of water supply in many rural areas. In absence of water, the toilets become unusable. Secondly, toilets are perceived to be dirty places and should not be located near the houses. Also, People don’t give enough importance to hygiene and upkeep. One needs to understand that prevention is better than cure. A janitor is more important than a doctor because it makes more send to kill bacteria outside in your surrounding rather than inside your body.