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Councilor: Stop dumping human wastes in open spaces

A city Councilor is pushing for a zero open defecation ordinance amid the presence of poliovirus in Davao River.

Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, chair of City Council’s committee on health, also cited a report from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) that the presence of coliform bacteria at the Davao River, particularly in its mouth, is “overwhelmingly high.”

The DENR-Environmental Management Bureau in Davao Region reported that the level of disease-causing coliform bacteria in Davao River is at 900,000 most probable number (MPN) per 100 milliliters (ML).

Villafuerte pointed out that the standard level for non-drinking water, according to the DENR-EMB, is 100 mpn of coliform per 100 ml.

“The DENR-EMB revealed during last Friday’s inter-agency meeting with City Health that the number of coliform bacteria in the mouth of Davao River is overwhelmingly high,” said Villafuerte in her privilege speech in yesterday’s council session.

Villafuerte, a physician, explained that for drinking water, the number of coliform bacteria must be zero.

With the zero open defecation ordinance, the City will direct the sanitation unit of the City Health Office to conduct an inventory of the households that do not have toilets with septic tanks on the whole length of the city’s shoreline, in the downtown area and in the upland communities.

She recommended that every home must build at least one toilet with a septic tank.

“It is high time we stop dumping human waste into the Davao River and its tributaries. In fact, we should
altogether stop dumping human waste directly into the environment,” she said.

Additionally, Villafuerte also said she will propose a mandatory immunization of infants and children law to help the health sector meet their goal of achieving 100% immunization coverage of children below five years old in the city.

Villafuerte has committed to help the Department of Health (DOH), together with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization, for the mass immunization that will start on Oct. 14 for approximately 180,000 children below 5 years old.

The council approved on first reading both of Villafuerte’s proposals. Villafuerte’s committee on health will hold public hearings on the two proposed measures.

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