The Department of Health and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) urge local government units in the country to prioritize sanitation.
With this, the DOH launched the Philippine Approach to Sustainable Sanitation (PhATSS) policy in Baseco, Tondo, Manila in celebration of World Toilet Day (WTD) on November 19.
DOH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said that using a toilet as well as the practice of handwashing with soap after using the toilet and before eating helps prevent the transmission of polio, among other diseases.
“DOH is reminding the public to practice good hygiene and urging the Local Government Units (LGUs) through the aid of DOH Centers for Health Development (CHDs) to intensify their Zero Open Defecation Program,” he said.
The PhATSS policy cites new sanitation targets for all barangays across the Philippines to achieve Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) status by 2025.
“Using the PhATSS policy, LGUs are guided on how to track the sanitation situation of each community and take supportive action to ensure that no one is left behind without access to a sanitary toilet,” according to the DOH.
The health department also said that there are currently only 11% of barangays (only 4625 out of a total 42,045) are certified ZOD, where people have abandoned the practice of open defecation.
UNICEF Deputy Representative Julia Rees said UNICEF provides technical assistance to DOH in scaling up sanitation programs.
“The effect of proper sanitation on health, nutrition, education, and security of Filipino children and women is paramount. It’s about time to look at addressing the sanitation needs of people in urban slums, in remote and geographically isolated areas, and in indigenous communities for a healthier, more progressive Philippines, and to ensure that no one is left behind,” she said.—AAC