OPEN defecation remains a challenge for City Health Office (CHO), as it said disclosed that only 21 out of the 80 barangays in Cagayan de Oro City were declared "zero open defecation" or have ZOD status in 2018.
City Health Officer Dr. Lorraine Nery said they are working hard to provide more households with access to basic toilet facilities this year.
"This data was in 2018, so we hope to add more barangays into the ZOD status. Ang target is whole Cagayan de Oro," Nery said.
In 2018, Barangay Mambuaya, a hinterland village in Cagayan de Oro, bagged the top place in the Zero Open Defecation competition launched by the CHO.
Mambuaya topped the list, followed by Barangay 7, which won P25,000, and Barangay 1 with P15,000.
Other barangays that were ZOD-certified are Barangays 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 12 and 19.
In 2017, Macasandig topped the list, followed by Barangays 3, 5, 10, 14, 16, 33, 38 and 39.
The CHO launched its ZOD competition in 2017 to intensify its campaign in eliminating the unhealthy practice, to defecate in the fields, bushes, forests, open bodies of water, or other open spaces rather than using the toilet.
The DOH, through the National Sustainable Sanitation Plan (NSSP), has set an ambitious target that by 2022, all barangays that are practicing open defecation shall be declared Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) status.
According to the Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), approximately eight percent of Filipinos, mostly in rural areas, still do not have sanitary toilets, as of 2015.
The DOH's zero open defecation program is aimed at stopping open defecation practices; ensuring that everyone uses a sanitary toilet, wash hands properly, handles food and water in a hygienic manner; and disposes animal and domestic waste safely to create a clean and safe environment.
The open defecation problem came to light following reports that Cagayan de Oro river and sea water showed increased levels of fecal coliform.
The presence of fecal coliform in aquatic environments may indicate that the water has been contaminated with the fecal material of humans or other animals. Fecal coliform bacteria can enter rivers through direct discharge of waste from mammals and birds, from agricultural and storm runoff, and from human sewage.