While the world is focused on the current pandemic and the death it has caused, a Christian group dedicated to providing poor communities with toilets says there's something more dangerous than the virus spreading around the world.
Gospel For Asia, a Texas-based Christian organization that builds thousands of toilets across different locations in Asia every year, said more will die of diseases related to unsafe and unsanitary toilet practices than those who will die from COVID-19.
The UNICEF bared that approximately 2.2 million will die this year from diarrhea alone - numbers which would be double the figures of COVID-19 related deaths to date. Many of these deaths would be children under five years of age.
Many of these deaths could be avoided if the poor will have access to safe and sanitary handwashing facilities and toilets, the GFA said, as per Assist News Service.
While most of the world tries to adapt to certain health protocols to avoid contracting the coronavirus, people should also pay attention to the threats posed by potential exposure to diseases stemming from human waste.
These are diseases that most may have overlooked, something that would come from open, raw sewage. These are known diseases like diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, typhoid, polio and hepatitis A. All of these can prove fatal depending on the circumstances.
In all, the unfortunate and likely casualties from this are the people who are not well-off. Not everyone in the world has access to a toilet or safe sanitation. This was pointed out in a new GFA World report titled "Fight Against Open Defecation Continues" marking World Toilet Day on Nov. 19.
Open defecation refers to people who go to the toilet outside in the open. This refers to ones found in the street, parks or even rivers. But the real threat comes from the discharged human feces that contain 100 million viruses, one million bacteria and 1,000 parasites. These can be transmitted through cuts, skin pores, contaminated water or food.
"For billions of people around the world, simply going to the toilet is degrading, unhygienic and even dangerous," said GFA World founder K.P. Yohannan. "It's easy for us in America to never give it a second thought, because we don't have to walk a mile or more to the nearest public toilet or pit latrine," he added.
It is a matter that most have overlooked, something that poses a health risk if ignored. Certain groups have taken the initiative to address the matter. Through the aid of technology, agencies are looking to find innovative solutions. This includes the development of solar-powered toilets that can convert human waste into fertilizer.
With that being a work in progress, GFA workers continue to build and place more toilets and latrines across Asia. But more importantly, it is about educating and reminding people about the importance of using them.
"I never imagined that we'd measure the impact of our Christian faith by the number of toilets we build," Yohannan said. "But the reality is that people see from our actions that God's people really do care about them."
The global "toilet tragedy" is a concern and something that has caught the attention of actor Matt Damon and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Though they are doing their part of showing people the consequences, more is needed to raise the level of awareness on this overlooked health threat.