Sanitation vital for public health
Water and sanitation are the two primary drivers of public health and are fundamental resources of daily survival, says Manasa Rayasidamu of the Ministry of Health’s Environmental Health Unit.
During his presentation on environmental health and sanitation at the Health Symposium today, Mr Rayasidamu said research showed improvement in hygiene behavior by 50 per cent for diarrheal cases as a result of regular hand washing with soap.
“Globally 1.1 billion people lack access to safe water and 2.6 billion lack access to basic sanitation. In Fiji, public health emergency was imposed at Koroboya in 2012, Bua and Nanoko in 2011 and Keiyasi in 2010 with factors of poor and inadequate water supply, sanitation and hygiene practices,” Mr Rayasidamu said.
The Rural Water and Sanitation Policy in Fiji provides regulatory framework for a cost effective management system and mechanism required to ensure the sustainable development of water resources and sewerage systems that would benefit the rural communities of Fiji.
The current situation in Fiji through the environmental health community survey showed that 62 per cent of rural population have unimproved sanitation, 13.4 per cent of rural population have unimproved basic sanitary facilities while 13 per cent urban population have unimproved sanitation.
Mr Rayasidamu said improvements had been done to Nanoko Village sanitation through the switch from pit toilets to flush toilets.
“Seventy-two per cent of the population have access to improved sanitation while 47 per cent have access to improved water source,” he added.
“Development in environmental health and sanitation includes safe water practice through audits in rural water supplies and implementing national community profiling to establish committed level of health.”