Unsafe Disposal of Child Faeces Harmful: Study

Bhubaneshwar, May 15, 2014: Despite Total Sanitation Campaign leading to increase in the number of households with toilet in the State, adoption of proper sanitation practices by the population still remains a far cry.

While the use of toilets, even by adults, in rural areas is sub-optimal and largely limited to female members of the household, an international study has drawn attention towards unsafe disposal of child faeces in rural areas.

Less than a quarter, 22.8 per cent (pc), of the households with children below the age of five and having latrines adhered to safe faeces disposal methods like washing them down the latrines or burying them in a pit, the study noted.

Overall, faeces of only 10 pc of pre-ambulatory children and 21.9 pc of ambulatory children were disposed as per advised methods, researchers from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University at Atlanta in Georgia, USA have observed. The study was conducted over 136 household from about 20 villages with children below the age of five. The study stated that 57.5 pc of pre-ambulatory children defecated on the ground inside the home whereas 20 pc defecated in the house compound.

It also noted that about 55.2 pc of ambulatory children defecated inside the compound. Around 20 pc of pre-ambulatory children used potties or nappies while the same number of ambulatory children defecated in latrine. The faeces of children that were not washed in the latrine mostly ended up in the household’s solid waste disposal site within the compound, which can be categorised under open defecation.

The very issue assumes significance and threatens to fail the very objective of the programme as it provides a potent sources of faecal pathogen. The researchers have pointed out that unsanitary disposal of faeces pose a greater health risk to children than adults. Young children present highest incidence of enteric infections and the stools are most likely to contain the germs.

“The practice of open disposal of faeces could create a source of pathogen exposure, either directly through leaching or dispersion with rains or indirectly via animals and mechanical vectors like flies. The proximity to households may increase the risk compared to the more typically distant open defecation sites,”  the researchers have stated.

The study on ‘Child faeces disposal practices in rural Odisha’ by the team comprising Thomas Clasen, Fiona Majorin, Mathew C Freeman, Sharmani Barnard, Paramita Routray and Sophie Boisson has been published in PLOS One journal.

Besides pointing at the shortcomings in the Total Sanitation Campaign, it has recommended interventions towards bringing behavioural changes in the households, a condition to optimise health gains. (Source: Express News Service)

15-05-2014 | Posted by Admin