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Sanitation: Controlling problems at source: Previous page | 1,2,3,4,5,6,7

How does sanitation prevent disease?

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For a sanitation system to provide the greatest health protection to the individual, the community, and society at large it must:

  • Isolate the user from their own excreta;
  • Prevent nuisance animals (e.g. flies) from contacting the excreta and subsequently transmitting disease to humans; and
  • Inactivate the pathogens before they enter the environment or prevent the excreta from entering the environment.

It is important to understand that sanitation can act at different levels, protecting the household, the community and ‘society’. In the case of latrines it is easy to see that this sanitation system acts at a household level. However, poor design or inappropriate location may lead to migration of waste matter and contamination of local water supplies putting the community at risk. In terms of waterborne sewage the containment may be effective for the individual and possibly also the community, but health effects and environmental damage may be seen far downstream of the original source, hence affecting ‘society’ (Carr and Strauss, 2001).

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