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Government observes World Toilet Day

Government observes  World Toilet Day

The Ministry of Health and Social Services, in collaboration with several stakeholders, commemorated World Toilet Day 2023 this week for the first time since its establishment in Swakopmund, Erongo Region.

The day was established in 2001 by the World Toilet Organization and officially recognized by the United Nations Observance in 2013. This year’s theme is ‘Accelerating Change,’ and World Toilet Day is an annual United Nations Observance promoted through a global public campaign encouraging action to address the global sanitation crisis.

In his keynote address read on his behalf, the Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Kalumbi Shangula, stated that for far too long, the subject of sanitation and toilets has been hushed and possibly regarded as taboo and that we need to change that reality and break the vicious cycle of diseases.

The main objective of marking the day is to mobilize global, national, and community efforts to improve hygiene, change societal norms, and eliminate open defecation by 2030. There is a global sanitation crisis, and the world is moving too slowly to address it.

“We are currently off track to meet Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6: safe toilets and clean water for all by 2030,” he said.

He continued: “World Toilet Day 2023 is about getting the world back on track by acting much faster. Governments and major institutions must be held accountable for delivering on their promises. In addition, I’m calling on everyone to take ownership of ensuring safe toilet and safe water usage to fast track the progress to achieve SDG 6.”

He added that the country has been experiencing an outbreak of Hepatitis E since December 2017, with 6517 cases reported. Since the outbreak began, 55 people have died. “We were able to control the outbreak with the help of the Ministry of Health, other development partners, and the Namibian community, and it was declared over in 2022.”

Every year on 19 November, the world celebrates World Toilet Day, a day to raise awareness and inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. According to the United Nations, 3.5 billion people live without safe toilets and 2.2 billion people lack safe drinking water. These conditions pose serious threats to public health, human dignity, and environmental sustainability.

According to the District Health Information System 2, from October 2022 to this year October, the Erongo region reported 1334 cases of Diarrhoea with Blood, with four deaths, one under the age of five and three above the age of 18. There were 19 958 cases of Diarrhoea without blood reported in the region, with no deaths. “This is an alarming situation which needs an urgent solution on water, sanitation, and hygiene in the Erongo Region if not the country at large.”

Furthermore, the minister stated that this week, health messages on the importance of having a toilet and hand washing with running water and soap will be disseminated to the public through electronic and print media such as radio, television, and newspapers, as well as house-to-house campaigns by an inter-ministerial team.

“Namibia has made strong progress in the water sector where over 93% of the population now has access to improved water supply, and the challenge now lies with lack of progress on sanitation. I would like to underscore that sanitation is all about human dignity while hygiene stands at the forefront of promoting healthy living. Namibia has set strategic priorities for sanitation and hygiene to improve the lives of our people,” said Dr Shangula.


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