By the end of next month rural India could have an extra 5.2m toilets as part of a pre-election pledge by Narendra Modi, now prime minister, to build “toilets first and temples later.”
Readers of The BMJ will no doubt be heartened by the Indian government’s announcement, coming seven years after sanitation topped a reader poll as the greatest “medical milestone” in the past 166 years
Rebecca Coombes revisited the issue in 2010 ahead of a meeting in New York to discuss progress reachine the millenium development goals, and community led total sanitation was one subject in our Medical Innovations video series The Indian government’s announcement has been greeted with sceptcism by some commentators, who say that many toilets constructed after the 2004 tsunami were converted into storage or prayer rooms because indoor facilities are sometimes perceived as unhygienic.
Abhishek Bhartia, a healthcare administrator based in New Delhi, shares that scepticism. In a response posted at the weekend, he says: “Good to see the focus on providing toilet facilities but worried that such a short deadline will sacrifice focus on effective implementation. It’ll be a tragedy to have funds wasted because of undue haste in trying to solve a longstanding problem.”
On the subject of responses, some regular eagle-eyed responders have contacted us because not all of their previous posts are being returned in search results. One email over the weekend asked if the missing content was because of “sabotage by a competitor!”
The problem started after The BMJ’s new website went live on June 30 and we are continuing to investigate the problem.
But the good news is that last week we did our first post-launch technical release, which addressed many of the glitches reported by you in the first few days after the new site went live. This blog explains more. Thanks again to everybody who has taken the time and trouble to let us know what they think of the new website, and to report any problems. We are very grateful.
David Payne is digital editor, The BMJ, and readers’ editor.