Editorial: Toilets and sewage, concerns we just can't be bothered with

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

THE United Nations celebrated the World Toilet Day last Monday to underline the important of sanitation facilities to health and the environment. First celebrated in 2001, this international day highlights one of the world's biggest problems -- inadequate sanitation for 2.5 billion people.

The prognosis is bad, especially for the Philippines.

"Most Asian cities do not have effective wastewater treatment systems. In the Philippines, for example, only 10 percent of wastewater is treated while in Indonesia the figure is 14 percent, in Vietnam, 4 percent, and in India, 9 percent," the Asian Development Bank wrote in its "Fast Facts: Urbanization in Asia" dated November 15, 2011.


In 2009, the World Health Organization and the Unicef reported that 1.5-million children die each year due to diarrhea. "The illness is the second leading cause of death among children under five globally. It kills more young children than AIDS, malaria and measles combined," the report said, and this is just attributed to poor sanitation facilities.

We thus remember a special report we made five years ago where we exposed how the whole of Isla Verde in Mini-Forest barely has toilets and around 50 percent of the total households in that barangay suffering from the same lack. The surprising finding was that the people don't have because they never had. The consciousness that there is such a need is not there, and that is a very big problem indeed.

That was five years ago, not much has changed, except that there are more people now in Isla Verde and in barangay Mini-forest. How many are they now who do not have access to a sanitary toilet? We do not know, and because no one is asking, we also would tend to believe that even the city government does not know.

It is problems like these that remain unnoticed if not unattended that contribute to a bigger problem. All we see are children in the charity ward of the Southern Philippines Medical Center suffering from dehydration, diarrhea, and other water-borne diseases. We do not see the unsanitary conditions these children live in. Thus, we all end up spending for SPMC and medical assistance programs when prevention could have been cheaper than cure.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on November 21, 2012.


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