Health Secretary Francisco Duque III revealed last November 27, 2017 that Filipinos are more likely to have cellphones than toilets. He shared this troubling statistics during DOH’s World Toilet Day celebration.
According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 70% of families have functioning toilets. In comparison, 85% claim to have their own cellphones. Presently, 7 million Filipinos still practice open defecation.
Lotta Sylwander of the UN Children’s Fund stated that this practice increases the risk of frequent diarrhea, worm infections, and undernoursihment for everyone in the community, especially the children. That’s why open conversations about the topic is encouraged. “Sanitation is not a pleasant dinner conversation but it should be talked about,” Sylwander said.
One talking point she had suggested was the DOH’s ‘Goodbye, Dumi! Hello, Healthy!’ campaign. The said project was launched in 2014 and encouraged households to build their own toilet system at home.
Duque stated that simply giving away toilets would be insufficient. “When our governors and mayors give toilets for free, household heads should also invest their time and resources, however limited they may be, in building their own toilet facilities.”
He then compared how we treat our own phones. “We take care of it because the money we used to buy it came from our own pockets. That should also be the case for our own toilets.”
The “Goodbye, Dumi! Hello, Health!” campaign reached out to select rural areas. First implemented in Masbate, the campaign hopes to spread nationwide on 2018. For the communities that went through the project, toilet coverage went from 58% to 85% in just six months. The DOH hopes that the nationwide implementation would reach success as well and achieve zero open-defecation status in all barangays by 2022.