A few decades ago when I walked the corridors of “The Grey City of The Outlaws Hill….where.. we are brothers and our mother is the School” and long before one village one dam, one district one factory and one man one wife became common parlance in “Sikaman”, a classmate of mine had coined the phrase “One man, One Rice”. This was to do with Dining Hall matters. For now we will refer to him as MM.
As we marked World Toilet Day on 19th November 2022 an amazing Akora Ing Harold Esseku politely reminded me of this important day and the words of MM some 39 years ago kept ringing in my ears. Could we not have “One man, One Toilet” as well especially in this era of “one something, to one something”. I know that is an exaggeration but definitely asking for “One Household, One Toilet” is a MUST and should even have priority over most if not all the one this, one that projects. How we manage our toilet and sanitation on the whole is a reflection on every society, community and country. Unfortunately in this land of gold, we are currently doing a poor job. We slug it out with the lowest of the low and war ravaged countries when open defaecation comes up. We build houses and make no provision for toilets. Is that pure greed just to make space for more rooms at what expense?
The absence of toilet facilities is directly linked with many diseases, a number of which end up with diarrhoea and the cycle continues as those who are affected still have to defaecate inappropriately. The impact on school and work attendance and the strain on productivity alone is heart-breaking. Dear lives may even be lost especially in the under 5 year olds or frail elderly people. What a waste!!! Oh and the money spent on treating the diseases is another burden especially as we struggle with finances. Whenever I think of open defaecation and poor or no toilet facilities, I think of groundwater and how we may eventually drink it. Some people may not have the benefit of water treatment by the Ghana Water Company, while in some cases the groundwater could leak into a pipe after the water has been treated. Then my thoughts go back to my years in Medical School when one of our Professors drummed into our ears that “whenever someone has diarrhoea it is VERY LIKELY that he/she has directly or indirectly eaten someone’s shit.” Do excuse my choice of words but it gives a vivid picture. Kindly read that again and let it sink in so that the next time you have diarrhoea or someone else has, your guess will most often be correct.
“World Toilet Day is an official United Nations international observance day on 19th November to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Worldwide 4.2billion people live without safely managed sanitation and around 673million people practice open defaecation.” We in Sikaman are definitely in the negative statistics and it is much easier to correct and has more impact on a community than building a dam or factory. That is my candid opinion. Big things first.
This year the theme for World Toilet Day is MAKING THE INVISIBLE VISIBLE, which focuses on the impact of poor sanitation on groundwater, and how inadequate sanitation systems spread human waste into rivers, lakes and soil, polluting underground water resources.
I believe the picture is clear and we all have a role to play. If a teenager MM boldly proclaimed that “One man, One Rice” he may easily have added that after the meal One Man will need One Toilet to “download”. In 2022 it will be too much to ask for One man , One Toilet but it is a human right to insist that at the very least “One Household, One Proper Toilet” and in my opinion this should be a priority ahead of the many more capital intensive activities and projects.
AS ALWAYS LAUGH OFTEN, ENSURE HYGIENE, WALK AND PRAY EVERYDAY AND REMEMBER IT’S A PRICELESS GIFT TO KNOW YOUR NUMBERS (blood sugar, blood pressure, blood cholesterol, BMI)
Dr. Kojo Cobba Essel
Health Essentials Ltd/ Mobissel
*Dr. Essel is a medical doctor, holds an MBA and is ISSA certified in exercise therapy, fitness nutrition and corrective exercise. He is the author of the award-winning book, ‘Unravelling The Essentials of Health & Wealth.’
Thought for the week –“We are seriously OFF track to ensure safe toilets for ALL by 2030. That is the promise of Sustainable Development Goal 6.2 with only eight years left, the world needs to work four times faster to meet this target.”