MANILA, Philippines, 19 November 2019 – The Department of Health (DOH) today launched the Philippine Approach to Sustainable Sanitation (PhATSS) policy in Baseco, Tondo, Manila on the occasion of World Toilet Day (WTD) celebration.

The policy cites new sanitation targets for all barangays across Philippines to achieve Zero Open Defecation (ZOD) status by 2025.  Currently only 11 per cent of barangays (only 4625 out of a total 42,045) are certified ZOD, where people have abandoned the practice of open defecation.

According to the 2017 Philippine National Demographic and Health Survey, 4.5 percent of Filipinos do not yet have toilets and tend to practice open defecation, while another 24 percent use unimproved sanitation facilities. This amounts to an estimated 28 million Filipinos whose poor sanitation practices pose a serious threats to the population in terms of health, nutrition, protection, education, environment, and productivity.

During the event, Dr. Francisco T. Duque, III, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary highlighted that using a toilet as well as the practice of handwashing with soap after using the toilet and before eating helps prevent the transmission of polio, among other diseases. “Currently DOH is conducting a mass vaccination campaign either through door-to-door activities or at the respective health centers, regardless of vaccination status. This means that even if children have already been vaccinated, additional doses can help them get fully protected. Aside from vaccination, DOH is reminding the public to practice good hygiene and urging the Local Government Units (LGUs) through the aid of DOH Centers for Health Development (CHDs) to intensify their Zero Open Defecation Program,” said Sec. Duque.

Using the PhATSS policy, LGUs are guided on how to track the sanitation situation of each community and take supportive action to ensure that no one is left behind without access to a sanitary toilet. While policies and standards are set by DOH at the national level, the LGUs are at the forefront of implementing sanitation programs.  Thus, the task to make each barangay in the country ZOD lies in their hands.

“We encourage all local government units to prioritize sanitation. The effect of proper sanitation on health, nutrition, education, and security of Filipino children and women is paramount. Prioritizing sanitation is not a choice, but an imperative! It’s about time to look at addressing the sanitation needs of people in urban slums, in remote and geographically isolated areas, and in indigenous communities for a healthier, more progressive Philippines, and to ensure that no one is left behind” said UNICEF Deputy Representative Julia Rees. UNICEF provides technical assistance to DOH in scaling up sanitation programs.

The World Toilet Day event, with the theme Toilets for AllLeaving No One Behind”, aims to advocate the use of toilets and stopping the dangerous practice of open defecation. Unhygienic sanitation contributes to stunting and malnutrition, as repeated diarrheal and other infections in the gut affect children’s capacity to absorb the nutrients from the food they eat. The act of defecating in open spaces such as fields and bodies of water, also put children and women at risk of sexual harassment and abuse.

For further information, please contact:

  • Dr. Faith F. Alberto, OIC-Director IV, Health Promotion and Communication Service, Department of Health, Phone Number: 86517800 local 2801 Email: [email protected]
  • Zafrin Chowdhury, Chief of Communication, UNICEF Philippines, Mobile: +63 917 867 8366, [email protected]

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in the Philippines, visit Follow UNICEF Philippines on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

About the Department of Health
The Department of Health (DOH) is the country’s principal health agency. It is responsible for ensuring access to basic public health services through the provision of quality healthcare and the regulation of providers of health goods and services.

For more information about Department of Health (DOH), visit