AT least 7.5 million Filipinos still don’t have access to clean toilets as they are resorting to open defecation, according to an official of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF-Philippines).
With this alarming figures, Dr. Mike Gnilo, UNICEF WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) program specialist said they have been implementing the Community Approaches to Total Sanitation (CATS).
Since the expansion of the program in the country last year, Gnilo said more than 2,000 new toilets were built in 19 barangays with two barangays already declared that they are open defecation free.
He said in 2014, they are expecting that 10 more barangays will be able to declare themselves open defecation free.
“People would also need to learn how to maintain and sustain operation and cleanliness of the toilets they build,” said Gnilo during the launch of the 1 Million Clean Toilets Movement of a leading toilet cleaner brand, Domex.
The campaign aims to encourage a culture of cleanliness by increasing the public’s awareness on the importance of maintaining proper toilet sanitation through a series of year-long cleaning and education initiatives.
It started with a multi-sectoral partnership with UNICEF, Philippine Public Health Association, the city of Manila and Pilipinas Shell.
“We need to have multi-sectoral efforts to achieve our goals and secure the future of the children in the Philippines and the rest of the world,” Gnilo.
Under the campaign, Domex will deputize ‘Germ Busters’ through a series of training activities on the proper servicing of restrooms covering city service employees, North Luzon and South Luzon expressways Shell gas stations service personnel, and selected school and hospital sanitation staff.
At the movement’s official launch, UNICEF provided an overview of toilet sanitation in the country, revealing that diarrhea is the third leading cause of child illness and fourth leading cause of death of children under five years old.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO