By Dr. Linda Lilian
When the genitals itch and the passage of urine is frequent but awful. Then the possibility of a Urinary Tract Infections is evident. It comes with discomfort, odour and also disorganizes the health body mode. Yet sit on toilets remain popular in toilet shared public zones, offices, restaurants, school and more.
In 2019 I raised the concern about infection drawn off toilet seats for women on the online Sanitation Platform SUSANA and experts argued it would not be possible, catching an infection by then I had interacted with more than 50 women in Uganda with similar experiences of catching an infection after using a sit on toilet seat.
The reality of catching an infection off the toilet seat is a reality and in Uganda it is noted that at a high rate with women constantly in hospital seeking treatment for Urinary Tract Infections.
According to Nabuuma Barbra in the Journal of Infectious Diseases and Preventive Medicine 2020, in an out of patients Department at hospitals in Uganda at least every 10 females report for treat with Urinary Tract Infection symptoms. She noted that by 2011 the UTI prevalence rate in Uganda was 13.3% and was going higher. Nabuuma cited shared toilet settings as one of the causes of infection and antibiotic resistance among women.
At Muwonya Clinic in Mutukulu it is noted that one daily basis a woman reports with a UTI infection and this also is pertinent to all health facilities in Uganda. It gets worse when it spreads to schools where children share toilet settings as well as bathing tools such as basins.
Treating UTI’s in private clinics goes to about 100,000 Ugandan Shilling or more depending on the prescription given. Therefore women spend this almost on a monthly basis. Meanwhile children who often do not get treated immediately suffer more diverse effects as the infections spread to the kidneys and the discharge becomes smelly and unbearable.
The need for government to proactively advocate for squat toilets or toilet seat cleansers in public toilet or washroom settings is key especially in offices and schools as well as markets and petrol stations is vital to promoting women’s reproductive health. Since UTI’s are also transmitted sexually to male partners and back to female partners, creating a cycle of unending itching, painful urinating moments and undesirable discharges on the part of women.
Few places will demonstrate the initiative for instance Nakasero Hospital where the shared toilet facilities on the ground floor have toilet cleansers. However the rest of Uganda leaves women and girls vulnerable to catching the infection, each time they share the toilets.