Human defecation remains a taboo subject, despite the fact that 2.5 billion people lack a toilet, causing a global health crisis that kills more than a million children each year.
But the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) hopes a new exhibition opening on Thursday will make sanitation easier to discuss. The show is part of its efforts to help fight diseases causing 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.
“We want to make shit sexy - make talking about shit possible,” Curtis told AlertNet, adding that proper handwashing with soap could prevent 600,000 deaths a year from diseases like diarrhoea and respiratory infections.
“You've got to know your enemy and look your enemy in the face. Some people say it's not acceptable for academics to go around talking about shit, but it's not acceptable for 600,000 children to be dying unnecessarily because we don't talk about shit,” she said.
London sanitation exhibit aims to make "poo" a hot topic - AlertNet