Open defecation concerns highlight sanitation week launch

In Summary
  • 23% of the population have no toilets and still do open defecation.
  • The need for a strong mindset change campaign to make people realize the importance of using the toilet and hand washing thereafter.
  • Ministry working with limited budgets amid calls to local governments to integrate sanitation into their plans and budgets.
Ministry Of Health,Permanent Secretary,Dr.Diana Atwiine delivers her remarks
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

The Ministry of Health has appealed to local governments countrywide to work towards ensuring that communities are mobilised to adopt hygiene and sanitation practices.

This amid concerns that more than half of Uganda’s health burden of diseases was as a result of poor sanitation; including open defecation, dirty roadside food stalls and pollution of water sources.

Permanent Secretary, Diana Atwiine made the remarks during the launch of the Sanitation Week at Fairway Hotel in Kampala.

“We have been pushing local governments to have by-laws so as to have the power to reprimand and put punitive actions for those who neglect certain standards like pit latrines”, she remarked.

“Because if they do not clean their homes not only do they fall sick but also their neighbours. So those bylaws help the local government to protect themselves during the enforcement but also to bring awareness to the population on their responsibilities”, Atwiine added.

Dr. Herbert Nabaasa, the Commissioner of Environmental Health in the ministry
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

Statistics shared by the Ministry of Health show that up to 23% of the population have no toilets and still do open defecation.

According to Dr. Herbert Nabaasa, the Commissioner of Environmental Health in the ministry, while the practice of open defecation is more pronounced in Karamoja, their data is revealing a number of other areas in Western Uganda in addition to the urban slums.

While the ministry is calling for the enforcement of the Public Health Act, it has emerged that some of the very health centres they run also lack sanitary facilities.

Discussions are ongoing to have Uganda introduce National Cleaning Days as a means to highlight the importance of sanitation.

Stakeholders attending the launch of the Sanitation Week
Image: Edwin Muhumuza

The Sanitation week is running under the national theme,” Sanitation and Hygiene for all-A key to disease prevention”.

On the global scale, it is themed,” Water For Health”, increasing access to safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation.

Ahead of the climax of the celebrations to be held at the Mbale School of Hygiene, calls were made to incentivise sanitation actors for example remove taxes on sanitation equipment, strengthen coordination between partners, increasing financing for sanitation in communities and awareness with a view to change public perception to appreciate sanitation as a public good.

Relatedly, plans are underway to provide 3187 health facilities with motorcycles to enable inspection.