Two percent of Vietnamese still defecate in open: official

By Cam Anh   November 21, 2018 | 11:03 pm PT
Two percent of Vietnamese still defecate in open: official
A makeshift toilet in rural Vietnam where people defecate straight into a pond. Photo by Shutterstock/Le Quang Nhut
Nearly two million Vietnamese, or 2 percent of the population, still defecate in public, spreading diseases like flu, diarrhea and dysentery, an official said.

Nguyen Thi Lien Huong, director of the ministry’s Health Environment Management, speaking at a meeting on "World Toilet Day" Monday, said some people urinate and defecate because of their poor economic condition and low awareness of hygiene practices.

Besides, many households do not have squat toilets with a septic tank and so do their business in public.

The Ministry of Health has said influenza, diarrhea, parasitic worms, dengue fever, dysentery, and foot and mouth disease are among the diseases spread through public defecation.

The availability of hygienic latrines in rural areas is consistently increasing but many schools, hospitals, tourist attractions, docks, bus stations, and other public places still have poor toilets or completely lack them.

According to a World Bank study, children who have access to hygienic toilets are nearly four centimeters taller than their counterparts living in communities where public defecation is widely prevalent.

Relief International estimates nearly 300,000 children under the age of five die each year from diarrhea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation.

Huong said: "Poor hygiene increases the risk of disease and high costs of treatment. The World Bank estimates that Vietnam loses around VND16 trillion ($683 million) a year due to poor sanitation."

To address the epidemic, the ministry has taken measures to improve hygiene "drastically" while ensuring they are also suitable for different people and regions, she said.

The goal is to end public defecation by 2025 and ensure all households have hygienic latrines by 2030, she said.

Since 2014, nearly 1,000 toilets have been built, repaired or upgraded, exceeding the target of 800 toilets by 2018.

Authorities also plan to raise awareness of personal hygiene, environmental sanitation and epidemic prevention among more than two million people and 100,000 primary school students.

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