LAST MONTH the Provincial Health Office of Iloilo officially declared the municipality of Pototan to have achieved zero open defecation (ZOD) status, Level 1 which means households were sharing sanitary toilets to avoid open defecation.
It’s good that residents of the town’s 50 barangays are no longer into the unhygienic practice of relieving themselves just anywhere. The ideal, however, is ZOD Level 2 – all households have their respective sanitary toilets to avert environmental contamination and water-borne diseases.
Pototan is the 19th in Iloilo province to have achieved ZOD status. The 18 others declared as such much earlier were the municipalities of Bingawan, Mina, Oton, New Lucena, Banate, Igbaras, San Rafael, Miag-ao, San Miguel, Janiuay, Lemery, Batad, Barotac Viejo, San Joaquin, Tigbauan, Badiangan, and Tubungan, and the component city of Passi. Twenty-four more municipalities must strive to achieve the status.
Open defecation is a serious sanitation and health issue. Diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year around the world. According to the Department of Health (DOH), around eight million Filipinos still openly defecate. We thus urge it to work with local government units (LGUs) and determine which households and barangays still need assistance for toilet facilities.
Access to health sanitation facilities is one of the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals One of its targets is to “achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations.”
Basic sanitation services such as toilets or latrines are important because the lack of these facilities results in diarrheal diseases and public safety is compromised. LGUs should be more proactive in addressing this very basic need.
We hope all households will have improved sanitation facilities and every Filipino will have access to toilets.