Where a large number of people are using one area, such as a bus station or school, especially when they are eating food from the same source, there is a greater risk of the spread of diseases such as cholera, hepatitis A, typhoid and other diarrhoea diseases.
These places vary in the number of people using them, the amount of time that people spend there and the type of activity that occurs in the area, but all public places need to have adequate sanitation and hygiene facilities.
Special attention should be paid to the adequacy of facilities, their availability to the public, and the conditions of their operation.
There are several basic rules for sanitation in public places:
• There should be sufficient toilet facilities for the maximum number of people using the area during the day.
• This normally means one toilet compartment for every 20 users. The toilet facilities should be arranged in separate blocks for men and women. The men's toilet block should have urinals and toilet compartments; the women's block, toilet compartments only. The total number of urinals plus compartments in the men's block should equal the total number of compartments in the women's block.
• Toilet facilities should not be connected directly to kitchens. This is in order to reduce the number of flies entering the kitchen and to reduce odours reaching the kitchen. It is important that people using the toilet facilities cannot pass directly through the kitchen.
• There must be a hand washing basin with clean water and soap close to, the toilet facilities. There should be separate, similar facilities near to kitchens or where food is handled.
• There must be a clean and reliable water supply for hand washing, personal hygiene and flushing of toilet facilities. The water supply should meet quality standards and be regularly tested to ensure that any contamination is discovered quickly and that appropriate remedial action is taken.
• Refuse must be disposed of properly and not allowed to build up, as it will attract flies and vermin.
Responsibilities for cleaning sanitation facilities should be very clearly defined. Dirty facilities make it more likely that people will continue to use the facilities badly or not at all. Clean facilities set a good example to users.
It is important to make sure that information about health is available in public places. Such information should be displayed in an eye-catching, simple and accurate way. Where appropriate, large posters with bright colours and well-chosen messages, put up in obvious places, are effective.
Health and hygiene messages may be passed on to the public using such posters in public places. These messages should include the promotion of:-
• Hand washing.
• Use of refuse bins.
• Care of toilet facilities.
• Protection of water supplies.
Local school children and college students can be involved in preparing educational posters and notices for public places.