You shall have a place outside the camp and you shall go out to it; and you shall have a paddle with you; and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it, and turn back and cover up your excrement,” (Deuteronomy 23:12-13).

Waste management has become a global problem of significant proportions. The United States alone produces approximately 210 million tons of municipal solid garbage, annually. A safe and healthy waste management system is a public health imperative and a responsibility of all mankind in all societies. Hazardous waste in the form of liquids, solids, sludges as well as gases can wreak havoc to general health and well-being. Hazardous waste can also take the form of discarded pesticides and cleaning materials. An inadequate waste management system can undermine health in numerous ways. For example, we are told that the unsanitary and deplorably filthy conditions of 17th century cities became breeding grounds for flies and other vectors that transmit pathogens to human beings. Because there was no comprehensive sanitation system in place, excrement, urine and garbage lay exposed all over in streets. In the 19th century, cholera and other infectious diseases ravaged Europe simultaneously for the same reason. In the 21st century, in some countries intestinal nematode infections such as ascariasis, trichuriasis, and hookworm transmitted through soil contaminated by fecal matter are endemic due to lack of proper waste management systems. With the re-emergence of dangerously infectious diseases, medical waste has become hazardous. The World Health Organization is frantically trying to urge governments in various nations to design and implement comprehensive waste management systems. Still, a lot of people are dying from preventable diseases whose etiology stems from poor waste management.

A close examination of biblical laws concerning cleanliness, washing, and other forms of hygiene practices reveal to us that they were not merely ceremonial rituals. These laws were given to Israel to protect people from infectious diseases, contagious diseases, plagues and chronic diseases. Over three millennia ago, God gave Israel one of the fundamental principles for safeguarding their health in the biblical text quoted above. This was a comprehensive law that, from a public health perspective, addressed hygiene, environmental pollution and sanitation. If properly applied, universally, this law could contribute significantly to a global reduction in the burden of infectious diseases. This law laid the groundwork for modern sanitary laws and waste management. Learn more from the book, The Perfect Prescription by Reigh Simuzoshya from