Open defecation is the act of people defecating outside and not into a designed toilet. This disturbing act has become a regular practice for 41 million Pakistanis which is deeply affecting their health and creating health issues.
Open defecation is a major contributor to stunting and constipation. There are many reasons why a person is forced to do it openly. One of the reasons is the unavailability of a toilet.
Pakistan is the third largest country after India and Indonesia, where more than 41 million people don’t have the availability of toilets and are forced to defecate in open. The quality is very low, even if the toilet facility is available.
Lahore has only a few public bathrooms which are in a horrible condition. It is very heartbreaking that we cannot make available the most basic requirement to our people such as clean toilets.
It is very uncomfortable and awkward for a kid to defecate publicly because public toilets are filthy, dark, smelly and unattractive. This can cause a serious health issue known as Encopresis, in which children start to dirt their undergarments with stool who pass the age of toilet training.
There is a risk to personal safety. It also may be risky to get there at night. Having toilets is a big benefit to girls. A woman must walk far distances to find a secret place to ease themselves; they are more helpless and uncovered to attack.
Public toilets are available but there is not sufficient time to go to a distant public toilet. This leads to diarrhea and malabsorption conditions in children. Such diseases cause deficiencies and insufficient brain growth.
Children are not capable of washing themselves properly because there is no proper arrangement and supply of water in these public toilets. People don’t know the benefits of using toilets because the benefits are poorly informed by the authorities to the locals.
The commonly ignored issue of open defecation is constipation. It can cause abdominal pain and can reduce the desire to eat as well. It should be regularly checked up because it causes rashes and cuts around the inside layer of the rectum. Stunting causes weight problems in children.
They don’t grow as tall as they should. It also affects the growth of a child’s brain. A pregnant woman can also give birth to a stunted child if she is a stunted lady. Stunted children are deficient in protein-energy leading to undernourishment in a child.
Agencies are working in Pakistan and with a government to develop cleanliness by running a campaign like providing knowledge to people to wash their hands. They're also functioning with communities to help them in building toilets so the locals don't have to go to the fields or elsewhere for a bathroom.
Everyone should discourage open defecation because it is dangerous for health and security. The government should provide enough facilities and make efforts to provide awareness and knowledge about overall hygiene and cleanliness.
Source: Dawn News