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HEALTH: Let’s Talk about UTIs & that Shared Toilet Seat

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Dr Lilian Linda

When the genitals itch and the passage of urine is frequent but awful. Then the possibility of a Urinary Tract Infections is evident. It comes with discomfort, odour and also disorganizes the health body mode.

Yet sitting on toilets remains popular in toilet shared public zones, offices, restaurants, school and more.

In 2019, I raised the concern about infection drawn off toilet seats for women on the online Sanitation Platform SUSANA and experts argued it would not be possible, catching an infection.

By then, I had interacted with more than 50 women in Uganda with similar experiences of catching an infection from using a toilet seat.

The reality of catching an infection off the toilet seat is a reality and in Uganda it is noted that at a high rate, with women constantly in hospital seeking treatment for Urinary Tract Infections.

According to Barbra Nabuuma’s article in the Journal of Infectious Diseases and Preventive Medicine 2020, in out-patient departments at hospitals in Uganda, at least every 10 females report for treatment of Urinary Tract Infection symptoms. She noted that by 2011, the UTI prevalence rate in Uganda was 13.3 per cent and was going higher. Nabuuma cited shared toilet settings as one of the causes of infection and antibiotic resistance among women.

At Muwonya Clinic in Mutukula, it is noted that on a daily basis, a woman reports with a UTI infection – and might be the case at all health facilities in Uganda. It gets worse when it spreads to schools where children share toilet settings as well as bathing tools such as basins.

Treating UTI’s in private clinics goes for about Shs100,000 or more depending on the prescription given. Therefore, women spend this almost on a monthly basis.

Meanwhile, children who often do not get treated immediately suffer more diverse effects as the infections spread to the kidneys and the discharge becomes smelly and unbearable.

UTIs are also transmitted sexually to male partners and back to female partners, creating a cycle of unending itching, painful urinating moments and undesirable discharges on the part of women.

The need for government to proactively advocate for squat toilets or toilet seat cleansers in public toilet or washroom settings is key, especially in offices and schools as well as markets and petrol stations, is vital in promoting women’s reproductive health.

At the moment, few places, such as Nakasero Hospital where the shared toilet facilities on the ground floor have toilet cleansers, have taken the initiative to prevent people from catching infections from shared toilet seats. For now, the rest of Uganda leaves women and girls vulnerable to catching the infection, each time they share the toilets.

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