By John Noel E. Herrera
After its continuous campaign for hygienic practices and safer toilets for the residents, the Iloilo Provincial Health Office (IPHO) said Iloilo has been certified as the first province to achieve the “zero open defecation” (ZOD) status in Western Visayas.
The ZOD status means that all the barangays in the province have access to safe toilets and have abandoned the practice of open defecation.
IPHO head Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenare-Quiñon said that all the 1,721 barangays in Iloilo province have been certified as ZOD villages, making Iloilo the third province in the country to eradicate the unhygienic practice.
“I am happy to announce that the province became the third province in the country to achieve the ZOD status. 1,721 barangays have been certified and declared as ZOD barangays, so that means also that our 43 LGUs in the province of Iloilo are all ZOD municipalities,” Colmenares-Quiñon said.
Data from the Department of Health (DOH) central office showed that the first provinces to achieve the ZOD status were Sarangani and Leyte.
Colmenares-Quiñon added that before the verification team declares an area ZOD, it first assesses the barangays.
The ZOD municipal certification and verification team is composed of the municipal health officer, provincial sanitation inspector, Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office, Municipal Engineering Office, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, and rural health personnel.
IPHO also said that every year, the Iloilo Provincial Government allots P5 million to purchase toilet bowls, pipes, and cement to be given to the barangays for them to build toilets for every household.
The beneficiaries, however, will be the ones responsible for the labor or the construction of the toilets.
Aside from the allotted P5 million per year, the provincial government also helped all the municipalities to achieve ZOD status through these measures:
-Institutionalization of the ZOD Program through the passage of Provincial Ordinance No. 2018-179.
-Adoption of the ZOD Program at the municipal and barangay levels through the implementation of the Philippine Approach to Sustainable Sanitation (PhaTSS).
-Organization of the Municipal Verification Teams tasked to certify and declare ZOD municipalities and barangays.
Colmenares-Quiñon also said that the provincial government and concerned municipal and barangay officials will conduct regular monitoring to sustain the ZOD status of the 1,721 barangays in the province.
IPHO started its ZOD campaign at barangay and municipal levels in 2015 to ensure that there will be no defection in open surroundings to prevent the contamination of water sources which could result in diseases such as typhoid, hepatitis, diarrhea, and amoebiasis, among others.