There are sufficient number of sanitary latrines in villages and open defecation is hardly seen
National Sanitation Month-2017 is being observed in Palashbari upazila of Gaibandha district from October 1 with a call to achieve 100 percent sanitation target by 2021 through stopping the open defecation. According to a report of this newspaper yesterday, to celebrate the month in a befitting manner, upazila administration, and Upazila Public Health Engineering Office have jointly taken up elaborate programmes in the upazila in cooperation with Wash in School Project of SKS Foundation.
It is a fact that open defecation has shown a declining trend in Bangladesh in recent years unlike in India. Open defecation is still a common sight in some Indian states. Even in rural areas in Bangladesh, a significant number of people are following sanitation rules. There are sufficient number of sanitary latrines in villages and open defection is hardly seen. However, the practice of washing hands properly after defecation has not gained ground yet. As a result, scores of people, particularly those belonging to low income groups, run the risk of developing stomach and intestine related diseases.
Due to lack of awareness women living in slums do not follow sanitation rules. They do not use sanitary napkins; instead they use clothes which is unhygienic. The health department can motivate the women to shun this habit. If possible, sanitary napkins should be distributed free of cost among slum women.
The food items that are being sold at makeshift eateries near slums are also unhygienic. This practice should be stopped forthwith in the interest of public health. The overall conditions of impoverished villagers and slum people can be improved by launching poverty eradication programmes. Through introducing savings and credit programmes, these people can be motivated to operate their own savings schemes and create a revolving fund from which credit operations can be managed by themselves. Besides, poor women can be motivated for poultry, goat rearing, beef fattening and agri-business allowing them to have access to regular income.
The access to improved water sources can make the lives of community members healthier while the constructed toilets and bathing facilities may lead to improved hygiene practices. Teachers of schools and madrasas can play their roles in making their students aware of sanitation. Local government bodies and community leaders can take up the responsibility to generate awareness among the people to follow sanitation rules through vigorous campaigns. Environment activists, civil society members, imams of mosques and religious leaders can also play vital roles in this regard.
The Independent, 27 October 2017, Bangladesh