Public welfare

Public welfare strategies for hygiene and sanitation that can help us win the battle against COVID

People have prioritized cleanliness and hygiene more than ever. Improving sanitation and hygiene, which have been the main weapons in the fight against COVID-19, must be further strengthened so that we can remain resilient in an emerging uncertain world.

If we, as a nation, are to remain resilient and prepared, the following concerns must be taken into account. The massive hygiene awareness and behavior change that accompanied COVID-19 has had a surprisingly positive impact on the burden of communicable diseases.

It will also have a positive impact on reducing the threat of antibiotic resistance, an area in which India has long been very vulnerable. The rural population in India is over 6.5 crore, with Maharashtra and PA each accounting for over 1 crore of people living in slums. Improving infrastructure, services and the operation and maintenance of public and community toilets remains one of the weakest links in the hygiene chain. There are several innovative and sustainable ‘Made in India’ models to serve the bottom of the pyramid in this regard, and rapid scale-up of these is urgently needed.

Large groups of people who mix daily for long periods of time remain very vulnerable and could trigger a series of infections that can quickly grow to epidemic proportions. Academic institutions and workplaces with a massive workforce are high-risk areas during these times.

For decades, Indian metropolises have adopted models of centralized waste and wastewater treatment. These are intensive, inefficient and elusive investments resulting in widespread contamination and pollution of water bodies and the environment, posing a constant threat of communicable diseases and their spread. It is common knowledge that most large cities have an installed capacity that can barely treat 70% of the wastewater it generates, and these operational inefficiencies add to the volume of untreated wastewater discharged into water bodies. or in the environment.

One aspect of empowering women is to talk about and explicitly manage the unique traits of women and their physiology. Menstrual hygiene is one of these aspects. It sounds like a familiar topic, but it’s actually one of the most mismanaged phenomena in India. Due to lack of awareness and hygiene facilities, girls (mainly in rural areas) avoid going to school or other important events in their lives.

In the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, sanitation and hygiene have become matters of the highest urgency and toilet hygiene is one of the major behavioral changes to come. In recent months, emphasis has been placed on ensuring absolute hygiene and preventing the accumulation of microbes in the toilet, as well as on strict compliance with hand washing.

Through awareness campaigns, information campaigns and consistent advertising, authorities, as well as companies, have advocated for the use of disinfectants and hand sanitizers in public places. These efforts are supported by start-ups working in the field of hygiene and sanitation to increase operational efficiency. Those who have used a public restroom and spotted a toilet seat disinfectant spray will know how start-ups are also striving to instill better hygiene practices in people’s minds. There is obviously a synergy between public and private entities in this area.

While frequent hand washing with soap and water has become a key part of the fight against COVID-19, wearing face masks is also highly recommended when using public restrooms as the virus can easily infect people through fecal fumes generated by flushing activities. It is expected that the increased emphasis on toilet hygiene, coupled with the construction of toilet infrastructure by the government, will help overcome many infectious diseases and washing challenges in the years to come!

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