World Toilet Day is Nov. 19

November 19, 2012
If you have a private place to go to the toilet, you’re among the world’s fortunate. About 2.5 billion people in the world do not.
World Toilet Day, celebrated each year on Nov. 19, is intended to raise awareness and remind us of the changes that remain to be made.
A latrine in South Africa. Photo by Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

A latrine in South Africa. Photo by Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

Gillings School of Global Public Health has a long history of addressing water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) challenges around the world. With the establishment in 2010 of The Water Institute at UNC, based in the School’s Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering, the School’s leadership reiterated that water was at the foundation of a healthy world.

“We have chosen water as one of our School’s four strategic public health priorities… because without accessible, affordable, safe water and adequate sanitation, effective disease prevention will elude the majority of humankind,” said Dean Barbara K. Rimer.
Jamie Bartram, PhD, director of The Water Institute and Holzworth Distinguished Professor of environmental sciences and engineering, annually brings together international WASH experts at the Water and Health Conference in Chapel Hill. Bartram, who worked on water and environmental health issues for more than a decade at the World Health Organization, knows that the sanitation crisis has profound implications for health.
“There are 2.2 million deaths every year from diarrheal disease,” he has said. “Unsafe drinking water and inadequate sanitation facilities cause 1.8 million of these preventable deaths a year – and 90 percent of them are children under five. Health care needs and costs increase with lack of clean water and sanitation facilities. Illness drains family resources as work days, and educational opportunities are missed due to illness. Water-borne infectious diseases are holding back economic growth in the world’s poorest countries. No other single intervention is likely to reduce global poverty more than the provision of safe water and sanitation.”
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UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or