Millions die every year across the world due to lack of safe sanitation facilities. “Ensuring 100% waste discharge from a toilet in an eco-friendly manner, the bio-toilets play a critical role in preventive healthcare,” says Dr Huzaifa Khorakiwala, Trustee & CEO, Wockhardt Foundation, in an exclusive interview with Suprita Anupam.
According to a survey conducted by Wockhardt, India spends 4% of its GDP on healthcare which is one of the lowest in the world. A spending of 3% by private concerns and 1% by the Government is too low and therefore both quality and quantity of healthcare suffer.
Another major issue is that there are only about six lakh doctors in India who serve the entire population of the country with a ratio around 1:1800 against a prescribed WHO standard of 1:600. As far as nurses are concerned, there is a need for additional 2.8 million nurses.
“When it comes to hospital infrastructure, the WHO standard is a minimum of 3.5 hospital beds for every 1000 population, India has only 0.9 hospital beds available for every 1000 population. The extent of healthcare facilities available is thus very low.”
Poor health index
A lot of healthcare problems occur because of water pollution. “Once the unhygienic waste gets mixed with usable water, the entire water source gets polluted, resulting in diseases like Cholera and Hepatitis. In fact, 50% of the water-borne diseases occur because human waste is not being disposed off in an eco-friendly manner.
“To improve the health index of the entire society, we have initiated a series of programmes, such as bio-toilets, Mobile 1000, E-Learning, Shudhu water purification tablets and Khel Khel Mein Toy library.”
It is estimated that 10 million children under the age of five die around the world every year due to improper sanitation. Of these, 2.4 million children are from India. Bio-toilets have a critical role to play in preventive healthcare in order to ensure that the waste is discharged from a toilet in an eco-friendly manner. If we talk about Capex, bio-toilets cost around 20% more than that of normal ones, as the cost of developing the bacteria is high. But the payback is much better.
“There are a lot of advantages of installing bio-toilets. The zero waste technology enables disposal of entire waste at source; thus, doing away with the need for connecting to sewer tanks and finally, discharging into the river. In bio-toilets, human waste is directly converted into methane gas which can further be used as fuel. The residual water can easily be used for irrigation.” It is eco-friendly, 100% hazard free and maintenance free, functions efficiently at sub-zero – 550C and has a lifespan of 50 years. This improves the overall health index of the area.
The specifications may vary as per requirements. A household toilet of six seats would require 200lt tank, while a single seat may need 25lt tank. A community toilet for 300 users, would require four eight-seat bio-toilet connected to an 8000lt tank for each gender.
“We have installed around 170 bio-toilets across the country – five in Chennai and 10 more in process; 120 household toilets in a village in Thane district and 30 in Jharkhand.
“The areas for installation are selected usually after being approached by the government or the NGOs. Soon, bio-toilets will be installed in the eight to nine areas identified. I am sure this will improve the situation.”