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Friday, August 29, 2014
FIELD work for days in rural areas means one has to learn to relieve himself in the basin. Or what those doing field work jokingly call, “basin diin.” Anywhere else that provides privacy.
In more formal terms, the United Nations call “basin diin” open defecation, defined as defecation in fields, forests, bushes, bodies of water or other open spaces.
Recently, the Negros Occidental Provincial Government launched a Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) campaign during the First Provincial Sanitation Summit. The Provincial Health Office in collaboration with the Water and Sanitation Program-World Bank will spearhead ZOD.
Worldwide, the United Nations estimates a little over a billion practicing open defecation. Out of that number, only 522,760 Negrense households or 79.22 percent have access to sanitary toilets. A significant percentage of 27 percent – or 108,650 households – are still practicing “basin diin.”
Still, in global terms, our situation is a lot better compared to 64 percent of the world who have access to improved sanitation facilities. Or in the case of the Philippines, Negrenses got it slightly worse compared to the 26 percent of Filipinos that have no access to improved sanitation, based on Unicef and the World Health Organization.
Open defecation is hazardous to health and is a principal factor in the transmission and spread of gastrointestinal infections and malnutrition.
Consider: A single gram of human feces contains as much as 10,000,000 viruses, 1,000,000 bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs. When ingested it can therefore lead to typhoid, cholera, hepatitis, polio, pneumonia, fatal worm infestation, trachoma, stunted physical development, and impaired cognitive function.
OD is a leading cause of diarrheal death; 2,000 children under the age of five die daily, one every 40 seconds. Worldwide, diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing 760,000 children every year. Diarrhea (or lupot as we call it in Hiligaynon, or LBM as Filipinos know it) can last several days, and can deprive the body of water and salts that are necessary for survival. In fact, most deaths from diarrhea die from severe dehydration and fluid loss.
Diarrhea is defined as the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day (or more frequent passage than is normal for the individual).
To the province of Negros Occidental and its local government units, congratulations for this notable campaign. I wish you all the best. We still have ways to go before Negrenses achieve ZOD.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on August 29, 2014.