The great Indian sanitation malaise – The health outlook
Like all good things in life, good sanitation is only available to 2-3% of the Indian population. More than 95% of the Indian population have a far greater probability of dying through unhygienic sanitary conditions than by an accidental reason. World Bank has been gathering ground level data about the Indian Sanitation since the beginning of the decade and the economic and health figures are more than startling. Sanitation in the developing world is relegated to the category of ‘basic cleanliness’, while the fact is that sanitation in any part of the world is a ‘scientific agenda with a sustainable framework’. Unfortunately, In India sanitation works on the whims and fancies of the local government – the stench and filth is there for the whole world to see and report.
Understandably, the focus of mismanaged sanitation is on the health of a nation. Inept sanitation system is the outcome of multiple factors in the developing countries – Mal-functional and corrupt governance, unabated population growth, lack of accountability in the system, nepotism and favoritism in the governance, absence of digitization, illiteracy and poverty – These might be the primary monsters of a developing world, but then there are millions of corrupt offshoot practices that have successfully corroded the basics of a clean society in these parts of the world.
Here we will establish our focus on both the health and the economic impact of the Indian sanitation insanity…
Inadequate Sanitation in India – Health hazards
The UN-WHO Joint Monitoring Programme for Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation (JMPDWSS, 2008, 2010) defines an “improved” sanitation facility as – ” one that hygienically separates human excreta from human contact. These include facilities that flush or pour-flush into a piped sewer system, septic tanks, or pit latrines, as well as ventilated improved pit latrines (also known as VIP latrines) and pit latrines with slab or composting toilets.”
The primary health hazards that have yet to be tackled successfully…
- Premature mortality: Millions of young lives lost to diarrheal and other diseases caused by poor sanitation.
- Crippling cost of healthcare incurred in the treatment of diseases caused by poor sanitation.
- Drastic drop in productivity – because of time lost lost due to recurring sickness and because of the time spent by care-givers.
- The total cost of health related costs were Rs. 1.75 trillion ($38.5 billion) (2006 assessment).
- Out of the total monetary loss because of bad sanitation, Rs. 1.04 trillion ($23 billion) was because of the premature death of children below 5 years.
- The children of the poorest families are most prone to the health hazards of a bad sanitation.
- Diarrhea comprises the largest chunk of the health impact because of inadequate sanitation (66%).
- The other major diseases which deliver a telling blow to the Indian population in the absence of a proper sanitation are – ALRI, Measles, Intestinal worms, Trachoma and Malaria
Some diseases which are can also be traced back to inadequate sanitation are – polio, skin diseases, HIV/AIDS, urinary tract infections, oral diseases, infectious heart diseases, cancers, influenza, Impacts on pregnant women, low birth weight.
A (un)healthy view of the the Indian sanitation inadequacy is presented below…