By Glen S. Ramos
ILOILO City — The Department of Health (DOH) granted Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) certification to Iloilo on November 18, 2022, the first province in Western Visayas to be given the status.
This means families in the various communities of the province now have complete access to safe toilets and ended the practice of open defecation.
“Being proclaimed as a Province-wide Certified ZOD is a very long process that has required years of investment and the will of its leaders. For the Province of Iloilo to achieve this accomplishment speaks greatly about the long-term commitment of the LGUs of Iloilo led by our governor, Arthur Defensor Jr., together with our municipal Mayors. It is truly an amazing achievement for the Western Visayas Region,” Regional Director of DOH Western Visayas stated.
“With the end of the open defecation practice in the province, we can now see the decreasing trend of acute watery diarrhea and acute gastroenteritis cases,” he added.
The province started implementing ZOD in 2014 after typhoon Yolanda devastated parts of the province and left thousands of households without access to safe toilets. And in 2015, with support coming from UNICEF, the first 40 barangays in 8 municipalities were declared as ZOD.
The Provincial Government has also provided support by allotting 5 million pesos yearly to subsidize the cost of building a toilet.
“There’s still a lot more work ahead for us. Reaching G2 by 2028 requires ensuring toilets and handwashing facilities are available anywhere Ilonggos go in our community — whether in schools, health centers, daycare centers, and other public places. At the minimum, we would need at least 167 million pesos to subsidize the cost of building a toilet, and we can only achieve this with the continued support of our local chief executives and development partners,” Defensor emphasized.