19 November 2008

World Toilet Day

Today is international World Toilet Day. The day is meant to bring attention to the single greatest health issue on the planet: sanitation. With close to 80 per cent of all disease being caused by fecal matter, the problems of access to toilets is a global one.
It is estimated that 2.6 Billion people do not have access to sanitation facilities. This means about 40 per cent of the world’s population lives their lives literally surrounded by excrement. This does not mean they do not have a toilet as we know it, but that they do not even have a bucket or the knowledge of sanitation measures.
Now imagine if somehow all people had access to toilets. All of a sudden we would cut the prevalence of disease by billions of cases per year. Medical and drug costs would drop. People would be healthier.
Now what does this have to do with travel? Well, as travellers seek more exotic locations, they are faced with more places without enhanced or even basic sanitation means. Let’s face it: having to go to the bathroom in some places in Africa and Asia is a trying experience for us soft Canadians. As a seasoned traveller I recommend you always carry a small roll of toilet paper on your person whilst travelling. And let’s be truthful here: it can be very useful not just in a village in Cambodia, but also in an airport boarding lounge. Before travel to an exotic location, I collect the ends of regular toilet paper rolls. The last bit of the roll is small and convenient to carry. Removing the cardboard tube helps. Put it in a zip-lock bag if it might get wet.
To learn more about world Toilet Day, visit the World Toilet Organization (WTO) by clicking here.
And wash your hands.