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Legarda Urges DOH, LGUs to Address Lack of Toilet Facilities as 8M Filipinos Still Openly Defecate

November 21, 2016

In line with World Toilet Day on November 19, Senator Loren Legarda has asked the Department of Health (DOH) to work closely with local government units (LGUs) in addressing the issue of open defecation.

 

According to the DOH, around 8 million Filipinos still openly defecate.

 

“I asked the DOH to work with the LGUs so they can determine which households and barangays still need assistance for toilet facilities. I hope all households will have improved sanitation facilities and every Filipino will have access to toilets by next year because this is a national sanitation and health issue,” said Legarda, noting that diarrhea caused by poor sanitation and unsafe water kills 315,000 children every year around the world.[1]

 

The DOH said it needs one billion pesos to provide sanitary toilets for all households in the country but it only proposed P83 million under its 2017 budget. The DOH provides the toilet bowls and the construction is care of the LGUs, thus, their budget request is based on the request of the LGUs.

 

The DOH has a Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) program where it advocates that every household in the barangay has sanitary toilets. Sarangani Province has zero open defecation.

 

“The DOH should meet with LGUs to determine priority areas for the provision of improved sanitary facilities using the Sarangani Province model, which has zero open defecation. If Sarangani which is among the poorest provinces in the country can do it then other LGUs can do it as well, with political will and health leadership,” said Legarda.

 

Legarda also said that access to health sanitation facilities is one of the aims of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Under SDG 6, Ensure access to water and sanitation for all, one of the 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”[2] by 2030.

 

“Basic sanitation services such as toilets or latrines are important because the lack of these facilities result in diarrheal diseases. The safety of women and girls are also compromised when they use public toilets or have no choice but to defecate openly. I urge our LGUs to be more proactive in addressing this very basic need,” Legarda concluded.

 

[1] WASHwatch.org 2016

[2] UN Sustainable Development Goals