Geneva, Nov 15 : Millions of sanitation workers in the developing world were forced to work in conditions that endanger their health and lives, and violate their dignity and human rights, a report said.
According to the report which was released on Thursday, sanitation workers provide an essential public service that is the key to safeguard human health. They are often the most marginalised, poor and discriminated against members of society, carrying out their jobs with no equipment, protection or legal rights.
'A fundamental principle of health is 'first do no harm'. Sanitation workers make a key contribution to public health around the world – but in so doing, put their own health at risk. This is unacceptable,' Director, Department of Public Health and Environment, WHO Maria Neira said.
'We must improve working conditions for these people and strengthen the sanitation workforce, so we can meet global water and sanitation targets', she added. The report on the plight of sanitation workers in the developing world is jointly authored by the International Labour Organization, Water Aid, World Bank and World Health Organization to raise awareness of the dehumanising working conditions and to push for change.
The report stated that poor sanitation causes up to 4,32,000 diarrhoeal deaths annually and is linked to the transmission of other diseases like cholera, dysentery, typhoid, hepatitis A and polio. Sanitation workers are the people who work in jobs such as cleaning toilets, emptying pits and septic tanks, cleaning sewers and manholes and operating pumping stations and treatment plants. They play a valuable role in improving the health and well-being of populations around the world and have the same right to good health.
Waste must be correctly treated before being disposed of or used.However, workers often come into direct contact with human waste, working with no equipment or protection to remove it by hand which expose them to a long list of health hazards and diseases, the report added. (UNI)