Ghana on Saturday climaxed the week-long celebration of the World Toilet Day (WTD) at the Bolgatanga main lorry park, in the Upper East Region.
The day set aside by the United Nations (UN), is observed every year on November 19, to remind countries of the need for citizens to have access to toilets and to adopt the use of household toilets.
On the general theme, “Stop open defecation, own a household toilet now”, the celebration is also used by countries to undertake advocacy and awareness raising activities, targeted at low income urban communities, and to mobilise support for the toilet campaign.
This is because the lack of toilet facilities has a direct link to the outbreak of diseases, such as cholera and diarrheao.
Available record from UNICEF indicates that more than 800 children die every day, due to diarrheao, caused by the lack of basic toilet facilities.
Statistics also show that five million people do not have access to toilet facilities, and poor sanitation cost Ghana more than $290m yearly, while open defecation costs the country $79m.
Worst still, about 90 per cent of faeces produced daily in Ghana are unhygienically disposed in water bodies, open spaces and non-functional treatment plants.
It is estimated that Ghana needs more than 90,000 new household toilets each year for the next 15 years for 4.8 million Ghanaians, who defecate openly because they do not have latrines.
These staggering figures show the enormous amount of efforts to be made for the majority of Ghanaians to have access to toilet facilities.
Indeed, toilets play a crucial role in creating a strong economy, as well as improving and protecting the safety and dignity of the people.
As a matter of fact, toilet save live, increase productivity, create jobs and grow economies, according to experts.
The lack of toilet facilities in homes, schools and workplaces, therefore, poses a huge challenge, which must be resolved if the country is to surmount its social-economic problems.
The UN has set Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) for countries to achieve 100 per cent sanitation in 2030, a target many consider to be ambitious.
As we celebrate the WTD, it is important for all Ghanaians to resolve to support the government to eliminate “Free Range” defecation in the country.
Undeniably, the dumping of fecal waste into water bodies, drains and open spaces poses serious health hazards and dire consequences for the country.
We must all change our behaviour towards open defecation and sanitation to give true meaning to the WTD.