ILOILO – Two more municipalities in this province managed to achieve zero defecation status – Lemery and Janiuay.
They joined the towns of Banate, Bingawan, Igbaras, Miag-ao, Mina, New Lucena, Oton, San Miguel, and San Rafael which reached such status, “level 1” (residents sharing sanitary toilets).
The ideal is hitting “level 2” or each household having its own sanitary toilet to avert environmental contamination and water-borne diseases, said Dr. Patricia Grace Trabado, chief of the Provincial Health Office (PHO).
PHO started the campaign to eliminate the unhealthy exercise of open defecation in the barangay and municipal level in 2015. It has a team made up of municipal health officers, the Sangguniang Bayan member who chairs the committee on health and sanitation, municipal nurses, and representatives from the Department of Health that check each municipality.
“As much as possible we want each household to have a sanitary toilet. But since this is impossible to achieve immediately, reaching level 1 is the more practical goal at this time,” said Trabado.
Many poor families do not have the means to secure sanitary toilets thus discouraging people from the unhygienic practice of relieving themselves just anywhere is an enormous challenge, she explained.
PHO revealed that of the 1,721 barangays in this province, 832 as of this month achieved zero open defecation status.
According to Trabado, PHO’s goal is for 50 percent of Iloilo towns to achieve zero open defecation status by the end of this year.
According to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), approximately seven million Filipinos still practice open defecation, mostly in rural areas.
“When our neighbors defecate in the open, in fields and waterways, our children will more likely experience frequent bouts of diarrhea, have worm infections, and grow up stunted and undernourished,” said UNICEF country representative Lotta Sylwander./PN