Toilets for health

Toilets for Health, a report published by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Domestos, has provided new insights into the sanitation crisis.

Sanitation crisis

It highlights how improved sanitation could greatly reduce diseases such as diarrhoea, which is the second leading cause of child deaths in the world.

Every year 0.85 million children die from diarrhoea – 88% of which are caused by poor sanitation and unimproved water.

The report also provides an overview of the main diseases linked to poor sanitation, including cholera, typhoid and hepatitis A and E.

The paper revealed:

  • Improved sanitation and handwashing facilities have a particularly positive impact on the education opportunities for young girls

  • Up to 443 million school days are lost every year due to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) related diseases

  • Diarrhoea causes under-nutrition and also reduces a child’s resistance to subsequent infections creating a vicious circle of malnutrition and infection.

Turning garbage into healthcare

Last taboo

The World Health Organisation estimates a rate of return of $3-34 for each $1 invested in water and sanitation, depending on the context and system adopted.

However, investment in water, sanitation and hygiene in developing countries is minimal compared to other sectors of public spending, and the share of investment going to water, sanitation and hygiene has actually fallen over the last 15 years.

Sanitation is often described as, ‘the Last Taboo’ and Unilever hopes that raising awareness of the issue through World Toilet Day will go some way to breaking this taboo.

To reach the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on sanitation in 2015, more than 120 million people will need to gain access to improved sanitation every year between now and then.

Domestos is Unilever’s leading toilet hygiene brand, and has been helping protect families from germs for more than 80 years.

The brand is working with global partners to plan sustainable sanitation strategies that will make a significant difference to the lives of millions of people around the world.

Toilet Academy

In partnership with the World Toilet Organisation, Unilever launched the world’s first Domestos Toilet Academy in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, on World Toilet Day 2012 (19 November).

This academy provides local entrepreneurs with the business skills and training to source and supply latrines to their local communities.

This in turn provides jobs and a boost to the local economy, whilst promoting the importance of safe and hygienic sanitation.

The Toilet Academy programme aims to be a sustainable and long-term solution to sanitation that benefits local society and helps stimulate the local economy.

Dr Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, Minister of Health Vietnam, said: “The active participation of businesses like Unilever, helping improve health and hygiene for communities is greatly appreciated and widely acknowledged.

“The launch of the Toilet Academy clearly demonstrates Unilever's enormous effort and will positively contribute to improve sanitary conditions for Vietnamese people.”

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