World Toilet Day 2013

Message from Dr Nata Menabde, WHO Representative to India

19 November 2013

Everyday, 600 million Indians defecate in the open. This is an affront to human dignity and poses serious health problems. Improved sanitation would save millions of lives and millions of dollars in health-care costs. Many reports indicate that the urban and rural poor are the ones without access to improved sanitation and are trapped in the poverty cycle.

Dr Nata Menabde stresses that, "The impact of inadequate sanitation on health, both in households and across communities is well-documented. The need for urgent, coordinated and coherent action in this direction is imperative. Along with our partners, we stand ready to provide technical support to government's efforts in this direction".

On 24 July 2013, the United Nations General Assembly declared 19 November as World Toilet Day urging the global community to take up sanitation and hygiene as a priority development agenda. On the occasion of the World Toilet Day, we urge the governments and partners to consider the inequities in sanitation access and revise their strategies and programmes to reduce these gaps by focusing and intensifying interventions on the currently unreached populations and communities. Ministries of health must also play a higher profile role in promoting sanitation and hygiene and good use of sanitary facilities as, it is one of the most cost-effective primary prevention interventions for several common diseases.