DOH: 3.5 million Filipinos have no proper toilets

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 23 2019 11:25 PM | Updated as of Sep 24 2019 12:34 AM

MANILA—The Department of Health (DOH) is calling on local government units (LGUs) to intensify efforts toward zero open defecation amid the resurgence of the poliovirus in the country.

Some 3.5 million Filipinos have no sanitary toilets, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said Monday.

"One of the reasons na tinitingnan natin kung bakit bumabalik 'yung polio, hindi lang naman 'yung low immunization rate, kundi kasama talaga 'yung poor environmental sanitation," he said.

An additional 700,000 toilets need to be constructed nationwide until 2030, or around 70,000 toilets annually for the next 10 years.

The health department's proposed 2020 budget allocates only P2 million for the construction of toilets.

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"Kahit sabihin nating P1,000 ang cost ng isang toilet, ang P2 million, eh 2,000 lang 'yun. Hindi talaga kakayanin ng DOH lang. Kailangan ito magiging concerted effort natin," Domingo said.

The DOH confirmed the re-emergence of the crippling disease in the Philippines, 19 years after the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the country polio-free.

One polio case has been confirmed in a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur, while the virus has also been detected in water sewage samples in Manila and Davao.

The country also recorded its second case of polio in Laguna province. Polio can cause paralysis and even death and has no cure.