Citing the importance of proper sanitation in our lives and the economy, Sen. Cynthia A. Villar has been actively joining the celebration of World Toilet Day every November 19.
“We should be clean at all times to maintain good health. A dirty environment poses dangers to our health because it causes many diseases,” said Villar, chair of the Senate committee on Environment.
“We all know health hazards, among others, that poor sanitation and lack of toilet facilities bring to an individual, families, and entire communities, especially now that we are facing a health crisis due to COVID-19,” also said Villar. She also mentioned about the added economic burden.
Quoting data from the World Health Organization, Villar said, “For every one dollar invested in basic sanitation in urban areas, an average of $2.5 is returned in saved medical costs and increased productivity. In rural areas, an average of $5 is returned for every $1 invested. Loss of productivity and sanitation related disease costs many countries up to 5% GDP.”
In supporting proper sanitation, Villar has embarked on the construction of toilets and septic tanks especially in Metro Manila.
She is also at the forefront of toilet bowl distribution project in Baseco in Tondo, one of the poor communities in Metro Manila.
At present, she has given almost 500 toilets in Baseco, which number is still far from the needs of residents. Almost half of the 10,000 households in Baseco do not have toilet facilities.
Aside from the health dangers open defecation poses to residents, it further polluted Manila Bay which has undergone rehabilitation.
She emphasized the need to preserve Manila Bay and its biodiversity since many are depending on the bay for fish supply and livelihood.
She said the government needs our collective efforts to get rid of open defecation, the main goal of the United Nations General Assembly in declaring November 19 as World Toilet Day.
The theme for this year’s celebration is “Toilet For Every Juan.”
In the Philippines, she said there are still millions of Filipinos who do not have access to a toilet. “Open defecation is still being practiced around the country especially in rural areas or in far-flung areas. They do not have the proper toilet facilities.
“And this is happening not only in the provinces. We have also many people in Metro Manila who are defecating in open spaces and bodies of water. And the human wastes, the excrement- they go to our river, to our seas; they go to Manila Bay.”
To ensure also that the water in our rivers and seas are clean, we have to stop the practice of open defecation.
She said every local government units should boost their initiatives in maintaining a safe and clean environment and in eliminating open defecation.