Night and Day Pharmacy – Toilets in Space

It is not my wilful wish to come across as tasteless and insolent but hey, toiletless India has won the race to place a spacecraft in Mars orbit on its maiden attempt. Umm, quite an impressive example of a government getting its priorities in reverse chronology.

According to the Gulf News (Aug 24th) the Indian health stats are stinkingly staggering: out of the 818 679 homes located along the sacred Ganges river only 294 691 have toilets. We’re talking homes here not population- one can estimate the average number of persons in each home and do the numbers! Hear this, twenty-two million households out of Bilhar’s 110 million people do not have toilets and the state government has barred the toiletless residents from voting in local elections to create awareness. These are apparently Indian government figures produced in July this year, 2014.


Finally, someone in government realised that the culture of ‘open defecation by the villagers was the main source of pollution of the national river’ and attention is now focussed on building toilets along the Ganges, perhaps well timed to coincide with the rocket landing on Mars. I hope they’ll remember to install lavatories in those rockets, one foul planet is enough.

Elsewhere it is reported that women have to hold it in until nightfall before descending onto the great river’s banks in the privacy of darkness. It can’t be safe or good for one’s health.

Delaying evacuation causes constipation because the body then draws most of the water leaving the stools impacted and hard to pass. Long term effects include haemorrhoids of different grades.


India space progam sanitation

Here, we even have toilets on buses so controllable causes of constipation tend to be poor diet, lack of fibre, couch hogging and use of strong (morphine-type) pain killers like codeine, dihydrocodeine or combination products like co-codamol plus many other medicines used for other ailments but with constipation as a side effect.

The treatment of constipation is usually determined by the cause and whether it is a short or long term problem- sometimes it’s just a matter of increasing exercise, fibre intake (fruit and vegetables) coupled with adequate hydration… water and fruit juice, not lager! Otherwise there are many laxatives to choose from: bulk-forming fibre-based ones, fluid retaining ones, irritant or stimulating ones, lubricating and tickly glycerine suppositories and the more dramatic phosphate enemas… ask my mother’s generation about labour ward pre-treatments!

My choice for short-term constipation for all age groups from babies to the elderly is the plumber’s way- sliding up a glycerine suppository. Unlike all the others (except for enemas) it is fast, acts in minutes and is free of any significant side effects. However most of the times I have to force it upon patients because the British just don’t fancy sticking things up there- the French however are known to be more amenable.

Thank the ballot, I can still say ‘British’ without hesitation. Whilst Scotland gets the best of the British cake- no-one pays NHS fees for prescriptions and no tuition fees for university education- a good part of it wanted to drift into the North Sea. We’ll never know whether they’d have kept afloat or sunk to the bottom of oil rigs. All I know is that cutting up this great nation along tribal lines- Scousers, Geordies, Yorkshire lads and lases- et cetera- to their own scares me. Being British via the back door, I’d be left in No-man’s-shire.

Together as one, I hope these islands would drift far into the North Sea to keep the Ebola virus off our shores. It could be the only way. The risk of transmission with or without protective clothing is frightening. The case of the Spanish nurse who supposedly touched her face with contaminated gloves is evidence. How frequently have we seen a health professional examine us with gloved hands then reach for a pen to scribble notes, remove the gloves, then continue to write with the same pen in their bare hand?


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