By Jennifer C. Tilos
DUMAGUETE CITY (PIA)–Some 24 percent of Negros Oriental household population are still practicing open defecation or having unsanitary toilets.
This was reported during yesterday’s first Provincial Sanitation Summit by assistant provincial health officer Dr. Edgardo Barredo as Negros Oriental marches towards zero open defecation (ZOD) under the World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Program (WSP).
Provincial Health Office records show that out of 271,185 households in the province, only 76 percent have access to sanitary toilets while 24 percent or 325,420 persons are still without access to sanitation.
Open defecation is hazardous to health and is a principal factor in the transmission and spread of gastrointestinal infections and malnutrition.
According to Dr. Barredo in an effort to prevent the increase of 903 individuals that suffered gastrointestinal disease in 2013 and scale up sanitary conditions in the province, a series of Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) approach will be employed to trigger behavior change of households to practice using sanitary toilets.
“After this gathering, we expect local government units to mobilize communities to gradually eliminate and stop open defecation,” said Barredo.
Negros Oriental governor Roel Degamo challenged the more than a hundred local officials, city and municipal health officers, and sanitary inspectors-participants in the summit to create demand CLTS so every household in the province has a toilet to support ‘Zero Open Defecation’.
The governor later led local officials the ceremonial signing in the declaration of support towards zero open defecation status for Negros Oriental.
The local officials along with the community health stakeholders committed to accelerate effective sanitation intervention in their respective localities and allocate the necessary resources for program implementation.
Without sanitation, the health official said girls are more likely to drop out of school or vulnerable to attacks while seeking privacy.
It is noted, that recent analysis shows that ending open defecation could not only save children’s lives by disease transmission but also stunting and under-nutrition which are important for childhood cognitive development and future economic productivity. (mbcn/JCT/PIA7-Negros Oriental/Article was first published at PIA Website on Oct. 30, 2014)