The Thai government has decided to discard the squat toilets prevalent in the country to mitigate the number of people suffering from squat-related arthritis.
The move comes after the government realised that people were suffering from arthritis due to squat toilets, which are present in 85 per cent of households and public facilities in the country.
The Public Health Ministry revealed that around six million natives, including expats, were suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee due to the bog-standard toilets. The ministry plans to replace them these with sit-downs, which are far easier on the knees.
The Deputy Minister of the concerned department, Cholanan Srikaew, suggested that the scrapping of the squat toilets will not merely help control arthritis cases in the country but will also generate more money via the tourism industry. The tourism industry accounts for seven percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
An unnamed source said, "Prolonged periods of squatting have been found to cause arthritis. It is hoped the new toilets will save a few more knees and boost tourism."
With regards to Thailand's tourism, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) expects tourism revenue from the European segment to increase by five to six percent this year.
Thailand receives 22 million tourists last year, according to a Ministry of Sports and Tourism report- a substantial hike of 16 percent over 2011. The European market saw an increase of 10 per cent in the same time period.
Squat loos are common in Asia and made headlines during Beijing 2008 when 500,000 foreign Olympic visitors and athletes complained that venues only had squat toilets.
What is Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a form of arthritis which typically starts after the age of 40, and progress slowly. Constant functioning of joints over the years erodes articular cartilage due to softening of subchondral bones.
Experiencing pain while walking, especially while taking the stairs or going uphill, and finding it hard to straighten the leg due knees getting locked are one of the common symptoms of such kind of arthritis.