Health and social impacts of open defecation on women: a systematic review

Saleem, M, Burdett, T and Heaslip, VA ORCID: 2019, 'Health and social impacts of open defecation on women: a systematic review' , BMC Public Health, 19 (158) .

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Background The significance of sanitation to safeguard human health is irrefutable and has important public health dimensions. Access to sanitation has been essential for human dignity, health and well-being. Despite 15 years of conjunctive efforts under the global action plans like Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), 2.3 billion people have no access to improved sanitation facilities (flush latrine or pit latrine) and nearly 892 million of the total world’s population is still practicing open defecation. Methods The study provides a systematic review of the published literature related to implications of open defecation that goes beyond the scope of addressing health outcomes by also investigating social outcomes associated with open defecation. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) was used to frame the review, empirical studies focusing upon open defecation in women aged 13–50 in low and middle income countries were included in the review. Research papers included in the review were assessed for quality using appropriate critical appraisal tools. In total 9 articles were included in the review; 5 of these related to health effects and 4 related to social effects of open defecation. Results The review identified 4 overarching themes; Health Impacts of open defecation, Increased risk of sexual exploitation, Threat to women’s privacy and dignity and Psychosocial stressors linked to open defecation, which clearly present a serious situation of poor sanitation in rural communities of Lower-Middle Income Countries (LMICs). The findings of the review identified that open defecation promotes poor health in women with long-term negative effects on their psychosocial well-being, however it is a poorly researched topic. Conclusion The health and social needs of women and girls remain largely unmet and often side-lined in circumstances where toilets in homes are not available. Further research is critically required to comprehend the generalizability of effects of open defecation on girls and women.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Journal or Publication Title: BMC Public Health
Publisher: BioMed Central
ISSN: 1471-2458
Depositing User: VA Heaslip
Date Deposited: 21 Oct 2022 08:58
Last Modified: 21 Oct 2022 09:00

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