Duque: There are more Filipinos with cellphones than those with functional toilets

Images via DOH's official Facebook page
  • Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III stressed the importance of having a basic toilet facility to achieve universal health care
  • Duque said there are more Filipinos with cellphones than those with functional toilets
  • 84 percent of households own a mobile phone while only 70 percent have improved toilet facilities that are not shared with other households

There are more Filipinos with cellphones than those with functional toilets, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco T. Duque III revealed on Monday, November 27.

Basic toilet facilities should be a necessity for every Filipino household, more than having mobile phones.

On Facebook, the DOH disclosed that Duque has emphasized the importance of having a basic toilet facility to achieve universal health care, during the World Toilet Day celebration at the DOH Central Office in Manila.

“We have more Filipinos with mobile phones than those with functional toilets,” Duque said.

Citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority, he disclosed that 84 percent of households own a mobile phone while only 70 percent have improved toilet facilities that are not shared with other households.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 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,” UNICEF CountryRepresentative Lotta Sylwander warned.

Thus, the DOH continues to promote the Zero Open Defecation Program (ZODP) advocacy and health education campaign. It aims to make all barangays that are practicing open defecation to have a Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) status by 2022.

Duque, on the other hand, noted that giving away toilets alone will not solve the problem.

“Households and communities need to be prepared. They should also be responsible. 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 explained.

“It’s the same when we buy our own cellphones. 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,” he added.

DOH is working with other government agencies, local government units, non-government organizations, and the private sector to promote its ZOD Program.

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