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Tamil Nadu - Coimbatore Printer Friendly Page   Send this Article to a Friend

Common habits which cause health hazards

K.V. Prasad

Spitting, urinating and defecating in the open continue

- Photo: K. Ananthan

PREVENTING THE SPREAD:A notice put up at the Coimbatore Medical College Hospital that discourages the common practice.

COIMBATORE: Even as the Coimbatore Corporation is working to get people's cooperation to turn the city garbage-free, health authorities both in the civic body and in the other public health systems point out that three other vexatious problems – spitting, urinating and defecating in the open – continue to thwart their efforts to ensure total hygiene.

Spitting continues to be a major public health hazard despite the Corporation slapping a fine of Rs.100 on those doing this, but only if they are caught.

Even as one walks towards the Corporation's main office at Town Hall, one has to steer clear of the buses parked at a row of stops on Big Bazaar Street.

Because, infectious missiles in the form of spit fly out of the seats in the buses and land on two-wheeler riders and pedestrians.

And, most of these are pan juices spat with absolute lack of concern for others.

“Open urination is an obscene act. It also causes an odour that inconveniences people. But, more threatening health hazards are in open air defecation and spitting,” says Deputy Director of Health Services S. Senthilkumar.

A few years ago, employees of the State Bank of India came up with an ingenious way to prevent the public from urinating on its compound wall along the bus stops on the Bank Road.

They stuck tiles with images of gods and goddesses to discourage the public nuisance. Later, the city police put up boards warning people of fine and imprisonment.

The Coimbatore Corporation refurbished public toilets in bus stands.

Yet, open urination remains a major irritant. For instance, the practice continues outside the bus stand at Ukkadam and even councillors of the Corporation have pointed this out at the civic body's Council meetings.

Open air defecation is mostly in and around places where below poverty line families, especially migrant workers, live without proper toilet facilities. Public toilets in these areas are very few in number.

Dr. Senthilkumar says that entero pathogenic problems are widespread in these areas. Stomach-related ailments are common among the people, especially children.

Spitting, however, is widespread. Shopping areas, railway stations, bus stands, cinemas and even hospitals are not spared of this menace.

“Tuberculosis is the worst threat from this practice,” says Assistant City Health Officer P. Aruna. It can also spread viral infections.

People with the compulsion to spit, including those chewing pan masala, should be aware of the danger of spreading diseases through what they think is a harmless act.

The U.S. and China banned spitting in public after it was found to tuberculosis spread because of this. Greater awareness among the public is also needed in addition to enforcement of rules.

Health authorities feel that constant education at all levels is needed to weed out habits that come with immense risk to public health.

Students should be educated at the school level. Instead of spitting anywhere on a playground or school premises, they should go to the wash basin. And, they should also be told to run the water into the basin for at least a minute after they spit. Otherwise, infection spreads quickly among young children.

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