On the blog

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Undercarriage Urgency

Four out of 10 public toilets are reported to have closed in the past decade, increasing our collective fear of being ‘caught short’.  And aside from embarrassment, there could be more serious implications for those with existing health issues who urgently need a private pit stop.  

What’s more, The Stroke Association’s Dr Clare Walton, says ‘not being able to empty your bladder could potentially cause a temporary increase in blood pressure which could put some individuals at risk of stroke.'    

Public latrine in Ethiopia
Few and far between: public toilets, such as this roadside example, are a rarity in Ethiopia.
Could the UK be going the same way?
Photo: Louise Thomas/Tearfund

Other recent news has highlighted the shocking truth that ‘flying care’ has become so swift that housebound dependent people are having to choose between asking for a drink or a toilet visit in the care provider’s turnaround time.

Meanwhile, many health professionals, from urologists to bowel cancer specialists, expend considerable effort to get us to open up about our undercarriage problems and get abnormalities checked out sooner rather than later.

Of course, most of us in the developed world are blessed with good healthcare and access to private toilets most of the time.  In the world’s poorer countries this is unlikely to be the case for many people.  Consider being a mother who can’t hold urine or bowel content owing to fistula (a hole between the birth passage and an internal organ such as the bladder or rectum, caused by complications in labour)  or a child with diarrhoea, or an elderly person with low mobility and a weak bladder - and not having access to a latrine.

But perhaps between us we can harness our health fears, our social embarrassment fears, our professional knowledge of healthcare, or our love of fitness and exercise and channel these energies into spreading the word about Toilet Twinning.  And maybe if you work in the health field, whether for the NHS, a private health provider or a fitness organisation such as a health or
sports club, you could start fundraising to twin a toilet?