Ministry to flush out squat loos, push for public to take a seat

The Public Health Ministry wants to put the comfort back into comfort breaks by encouraging households nationwide to sit rather than squat.

A child sits on a squat toilet at Wat Klong Toey Nai. The Public Health Ministry aims to promote Western-style seated toilets nationwide to minimise degenerative joint disease. The proposal will be tabled to the cabinet meeting today. PATTARAPONG CHATPATTARASILL

The push is aimed at reducing degenerative joint disease, which the ministry says can be caused by routinely using squat toilets.

Most Thai households currently use squat toilets, but the ministry wants them flushed out within three years and replaced with Western-style seated ones.

Deputy Public Health Minister Chonlanan Srikaew said the ministry will pass its motion to the cabinet for consideration today.

The masterplan, which will be considered a national agenda item, calls for all households to use sitting toilets by 2016 to reduce the risk of degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis.

Dr Chonlanan said the use of squat toilets puts pressure on the knees, which can lead to osteoarthritis.

The ministry says about 6 million Thais suffer from osteoarthritis, most of whom are over 60 years old. However, there is a rising trend of people aged between 45 and 60 suffering from the same disease.

Contributing factors include obesity, accidents and possibly damaging postures such as squatting and sitting with crossed legs.

A public health survey last year found 86% of Thai households use squat toilets, 10% use sitting toilets and 3.1% have both, Dr Chonlanan said.

The Department of Health plans to encourage 50% of households to switch to sitting toilets by the end of this year. It wants this figure to rise to 75% by next year and 100% by 2016.

The ministry also plans to achieve a 90% sitting-toilet rate in public toilets, including those located at hospitals, public health offices and petrol stations within three years.

About the author

Writer: Paritta Wangkiat