By Analou De Vera
The Department of Health’s (DOH) sanitation campaign that urge Filipinos to abandon the practice of open defecation won an award during the recent 16th Philippine Quill Awards.
The campaign “Goodbye, Dumi! Hello, Healthy!,” won an Award of Excellence and was also cited by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) as an outstanding communication management program under the non-profit campaign category.
The health department said that eliminating open defecation by year 2022 is one of the goals of the DOH-National Sustainable Sanitation Plan (NSSP).
“Achieving zero open defecation is not easy. Households and communities need to be aware and prepared. All our efforts will be for naught if families will not change their behaviors,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
“Government used to give out toilet bowls in the hope of ending open defecation. However, this has not worked when toilet bowls were not used, because the problem on changing household’s behavior was not changed. We need engaging communication to convince families to make sanitation a health priority,” added Duque.
The campaign was first implemented in Masbate province in 2014, and is currently being rolled out in all the country’s regions. It “has reached over 100,000 people in nearly 60 communities,” the DOH said.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative to the Philippines Lotta Sylwander said that the campaign will help Filipinos understand that exposure to human waste can affect their health and nutrition.
“Improper disposal of human waste poses risks to human health. People practicing open defecation, in fields and waterways, will more likely infect the individual particularly our children with sanitation related diseases like intestinal parasitism, acute gastro-enteritis, cholera, typhoid….all can lead to malnutrition, stunting and even death,” said Sylwander.
In 2017, “Goodbye, Dumi! Hello, Healthy!” won its first Quill Award of Excellence for its research on the impact of the campaign in selected communities in Masbate, the DOH said.