Manila, 11 July 2018 – A health promotion campaign urging Filipinos to abandon the practice of open defecation won an Award of Excellence for the Department of Health (DOH) at the 16th Philippine Quill Awards. In the Philippines, around six million still defecate in open spaces such as fields and bodies of water.
Dubbed as “Goodbye, Dumi! Hello, Healthy!”, the communication campaign was cited by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) as an outstanding communication management program under the non-profit campaign category.
“Achieving zero open defecation is not easy. Households and communities need to be aware and prepared. All our efforts will be for naught if families will not change their behaviors,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Eliminating open defecation by 2022 is one of the goals of the Department of Health’s National Sustainable Sanitation Plan (NSSP). “The government used to give out toilet bowls in the hope of ending open defecation. However, we later realized that this alone will not solve our problem. They did not use the toilets. We need to change people’s behavior. We need engaging communication to convince families to make sanitation a health priority,” added Duque.
The health promotion and communication campaign “Goodbye, Dumi! Hello, Healthy!” supports the Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) Program of DOH. First implemented in the Province of Masbate in 2014, the campaign is currently being rolled out in all regions. The campaign is composed of different communication platforms, including a community play, health classes, and engaging information materials for children and adults about the benefits of having sanitary toilet facilities.
Designed with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Center for Health Solutions and Innovations Philippines, Inc. (CHSI) and PageOne Media, “Goodbye, Dumi! Hello, Healthy!” has reached over 100,000 people in nearly 60 communities.
“When people living in our communities defecate in the open, in fields and waterways, our children will more likely experience frequent bouts of water-borne diseases, have worm infections, and grow up stunted and undernourished,” said UNICEF Philippines Representative Lotta Sylwander. “’Goodbye, Dumi! Hello, Healthy!’ is our way of making mothers, fathers, boys and girls understand how exposed feces around them can affect their health and nutrition.”
In communities where the campaign was first implemented, toilet coverage has increased from 56 to 86% on average in a six-month period since 2016, according to UNICEF. In these areas, more than 50% of the communities have achieved ZOD status. Several municipalities like Cuartero in Capiz and Antipas in North Cotabato have recently been declared as ZOD municipalities with the help of the campaign.
In 2017, “Goodbye, Dumi! Hello, Healthy!” won its first Quill Award of Excellence for its research on the impact of the campaign in selected communities in Masbate. The Quills are among the most coveted awards in the communication industry in the Philippines