For any social and economic development, adequate sanitation in conjunction with good hygiene
and safe water are essential to good health. Lack of proper sanitation causes diseases. Most of the
diseases resulting from sanitation have a direct relation to poverty. It is estimated that up to 5
million people die each year from preventable waterborne diseases, as a result of inadequate
sanitation and hygiene practices. The effects of sanitation have impacted the society of people
throughout history. Sanitation is a necessity for a healthy life. In practical terms, lack of sanitation
means lack of toilets or lack of hygienic toilets that anybody would want to use voluntarily. Lack of
sanitation also refers to the lack of maintenance of hygienic conditions, through services such as
garbage collection and wastewater disposal. The result of lack of sanitation is usually open
defecation (and open urination but this is of less concern) and indiscriminate dumping of garbage
and ill liquid waste disposal, with the associated serious public health issues. The lack of clean
water and poor sanitation causes many diseases and the spread of diseases. It is estimated that
inadequate sanitation is responsible for 4 percent of deaths and 5.7 percent of disease burden
Lack of sanitation is a serious issue that is affecting most developing countries and countries in
transition. The importance of the isolation of excreta and waste lies in an effort to prevent
diseases which can be transmitted through human waste, which afflict both developed countries
as well as developing countries to differing degrees. However, a nation with a poor health
situation, can never develop, this is due to the fact that, only a healthy nation strives towards
development. There are obvious local environmental benefits from improved sanitation. This
means that defecation only takes place in properly constructed latrines, areas of land are not
contaminated with faeces and watercourses no longer act as sewers. This in turn allows plant life,
fish and other aquatic organisms to flourish.
Improving waste management improves the local environment and also benefits the national and
even the global environment. Good waste management means less litter in the streets and in the
neighbourhood of waste disposal sites. It also reduces the smell in the streets from decomposing
wastes. Improving access to sanitation is a critical step towards reducing the impact of these
diseases. It also helps create physical environments that enhance safety, dignity and self-esteem.
Safety issues are particularly important for women and children, who otherwise risk sexual
harassment and assault when defecating at night and in secluded areas.
Also, improving sanitation facilities and promoting hygiene in schools benefits both learning and
the health of children. Child-friendly schools that offer private and separate toilets for boys and
girls, as well as facilities for hand washing with soap, are better equipped to attract and retain
students, especially girls. Where such facilities are not available, girls are often withdrawn from
school when they reach puberty.
In health-care facilities, safe disposal of human waste of patients, staff and visitors is an essential
environmental health measure. This intervention can contribute to the reduction of the
transmission of health-care associated infections which affect 5% to 30% of patients.