Last Updated on 3 weeks by Publishing Team
Suva, Fiji, 19 November 2021
On this World Toilet Day, the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services, together with UNICEF, is calling on the important need to continue to recognize the value of toilets and the sanitation systems that support them. Lack of access to good sanitation has devastating effects on health, economies, and the environment, particularly for the poorest and most marginalized communities.
“When people have better access to sanitation and water, they are healthy and can also work productively, live more fully, and contribute more to society. We thank UNICEF for the support in ensuring communities are able to have this better access,” said the Hon. Minister for Health and Medical Services, Dr. Ifereimi Waqainabete. “Our Constitution ensures adequate access to sanitation for all Fijians under the Right to Sanitation in the Bill of Rights of the 2013 Constitution.”
World Toilet Day is celebrated around the world to value toilets for everything they do for us – from taking away our waste to protecting our health, safety, and dignity. The day is marked to increase awareness of the 3.6 billion people globally living without access to safely managed sanitation.
In Fiji, over 350 communities, based on the 2017 census, still do not have access to safe and proper toilets leading to more than 50 percent of children and their families being vulnerable to preventable diseases including diarrhea and typhoid. Poor sanitation also contaminates drinking-water sources, rivers, beaches, and food crops in many Fijian communities.
“Toilets and the services that support their functionality are an essential pre-requisite for healthy and happy communities, but too often toilets are undervalued,” said UNICEF Pacific Representative, Jonathan Veitch. “UNICEF is working closely with the Fijian Ministry of Health and Medical Services to ensure that communities and households, especially in the most remote areas, can access good toilets and sanitation, as well as value the importance of this for good health.”
When some people in a community do not have safe toilets, everyone’s health is threatened. Globally, at least two billion people use a drinking water source contaminated with faeces. Every day, over 700 children under five years old die from diarrhoea linked to unsafe water, sanitation, and poor hygiene.
For women and girls, not having proper toilets at home, school, or at work limits them in fulfilling their potential and playing their full role in society, especially during menstruation and pregnancy.
The Ministry of Health and Medical Services is working together with UNICEF to support the improvement of sanitation status for rural communities and decrease the incidence of water, sanitation, and hygiene-related diseases in the country. This is with the focus on ensuring that communities have improved access to basic drinking water and sanitation, including in schools and health facilities.
UNICEF is currently supporting the Ministry in their ‘Tarova Programme’ which aims to install 1000 field latrine units in vulnerable communities across northern, western, and central divisions.
The Ministry, together with UNICEF, urges everyone to value good toilets and sanitation as an investment in public health and economic resilience.