Why Is November 19 Important?

Most people do not regard November 19 as being very important, unless they have a personal reason, such as a birthday or an anniversary, or are in a country or society that gives it special recognition. Using Google and entering November 19, I learned about several things that happened on that day: In 1794, American and English officials signed the Jay Treaty, thus resolving some major issues after the Revolutionary War that gave the U.S. independence from England. In 1850, the first life insurance policy was issued to a woman. In 1863, President Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address while the Civil War was raging. In 1985, President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev met for their first summit in Geneva, Switzerland. There are other examples.

A few years ago, November 19 was chosen for a completely different observance: World Toilet Day. That’s the main point of this blog.

According to a recent survey in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), “the introduction of clean water and sewage disposal is the most important medical milestone since 1840, when the BMJ was first published.” Clean water certainly is important, but lack of appropriate sanitation still kills over twice as many people at the present time.

I have referred to several organizations in the “Clean Water / Sanitation / Food” category of my website that are working to help bring appropriate sanitation to everyone on the planet. In addition, there are major efforts by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and other non-profits, governmental agencies, and commercial firms working toward that goal. A Google search brings up many names.

When I was a young boy on a farm in Tennessee, we did not have indoor plumbing. Nor did anyone else around. I certainly remember the outdoor toilet. However, we were not close enough to other people to cause harm, and my parents and other adults knew how to handle the situation. Our water supply (through wells) was not affected. Now the challenge is to help developing world people who don’t have indoor plumbing and live in much closer circumstances, especially slums and cities, so that they don’t have to worry.

This is a thought to remember on November 19 and every other time you use the bathroom (if you are fortunate enough to have one). More than one billion of the world’s people do not.

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