Health is the biggest wealth of a human being. Only a person with good health can live a normal life and becomes successful in his/her endeavours. Bad health impedes people to pursue any meaningful tasks, gain economic independence, support family and contribute to the nation. This is a reason why Nepal’s new Constitution has accepted health as the fundamental right of the citizens. It has incorporated four provisions, including- every citizen shall have the right to free basic health services from the State, and no one shall be deprived of emergency health services; every citizen shall have equal access to health services, and every citizen shall have the right of access to clean drinking water and sanitation. Nepal’s successive governments have laid due emphasis on improving the health of the people.
The new government, formed following the three-tier elections held in 2017, is putting its best foot forward to provide basic health services to all people. In line with the Constitution’s vision, Nepal has been declared as an open defecation free (ODF) nation. Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli made the announcement in Kathmandu the other day as reported by this daily on Tuesday. As per it, Nepal’s 753 local bodies, 77 districts, and seven states have become ODF zones. With this, Nepal has become the first South Asian nation as ODF one. It is now close to meeting Goal 6 of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) that calls for ensuring availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. It stresses ending open defecation and paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.
Clean drinking water, hygiene, and sanitation are prerequisite to good health. Sanitation boosts family literacy, economic development and eco-system, too. Lack of sanitation means a dirty, unhappy and wretched life. The places sans hygienic amenities breed infectious diseases. People succumb to many water-borne diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera and dysentery owing to the contaminated water. Open defecation pollutes water and air, and spreads harmful viruses. In Nepal, open defecation has been blamed for transmitting diseases to children, thereby triggering the child mortality at an alarming rate. Of late, the country witnessed a decline in the child mortality thanks to the increasing ODF places across the country.
With the nation declared as ODF, it has moved one step ahead in achieving the high goal of Prosperous Nepal, Happy Nepali. But this gain must not allow the concerned authorities to be complacent about meeting several other health objectives mentioned in the National Health Policy and other directives. The government is putting efforts to achieve six indicators of SDG Goal 6 ‘Clean Water and Sanitation’ by 2030. The priority should be given to the supply of clean water and construction of public toilets in cities and villages. It is a common scene in the capital and other urban centres where the pedestrians feel uncomfortable when there is a call of nature. Our cities lack adequate number of toilets with basic facilities. The public health officials as well as political leadership need to wisely spend budget on health infrastructures such as toilets, health posts and hospitals to ensure the health rights of the people. Only then can all Nepali citizens be able to live productive and quality life.