London sanitation exhibit

Admit it—talk around the dinner table at your house most likely never turns to what happens in the privacy of the washroom. The folks at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) are trying to change that with a new exhibition. It’s part of the organization’s efforts to help fight diseases that cause diarrhoea, which kill more children than malaria, HIV/AIDS and measles combined.

“People don't talk about poo enough, and if we don't talk about poo, how are we going to solve the problem of diarrhoeal diseases?” asked Val Curtis, director of the LSHTM's Hygiene Centre, in this article on AlertNet.

The month-long exhibition includes a selection of toilet designs, scientific tools for the study of feces, in addition to the statue seen above. Although using humour, the exhibit is asking people to engage in a serious and important subject matter.

I recently returned from a mission with the Red Cross in Sierra Leone in response to a cholera outbreak. The deadly disease is spread when feces from an infected person gets into the water or food people eat. If they don’t get help quickly, people can die from severe dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea. Talking about safe hygiene and sanitation practices was key to the prevention activities we were undertaking in Sierra Leone.

Research into new and improved sanitation methods for developing countries, which means yes, more talk about poo, is crucial to preventing deaths due to diarrhea for many vulnerable populations around the world.