Master’s Student Gauthami Penakalapati Connects Sanitation with Mental and Social Well-Being

In her recent review on sanitation and well-being outcomes, Gauthami Penakalapati explores a more holistic definition of “health,” which includes physical, mental and social well-being. She discusses how inadequate sanitation, privacy, and safety can lead to increased mental and social risks, especially for women and girls.

“Public health research on sanitation has focused predominantly on the impact of sanitation on infectious diseases and related sequelae, such as diarrhea and malnutrition. Yet, the WHO defines health not as the absence of disease but as a “state of complete physical, mental and social well-being” (WHO, 1948). This holistic definition of health is critical to understanding how sanitation impacts all aspects of health. Studies have increasingly documented how sanitation may influence health beyond disease, particularly for women and girls. Worldwide about 1 in 3 women have experienced gender-based violence (GBV), and studies indicate that inadequate sanitation may put women and girls at greater risk of experiencing violence (WHO, 2013).”

Read the complete review in Social Science & Medicine.