According to Nguyen Thi Lien Huong, Director of the Health Environment Management Agency (under the Health Ministry), environmental sanitation and hygiene in Vietnam’s rural areas remain poor despite great improvements in living standards thanks to rapid economic development over the past years.
Huong said only 65 percent of households in rural areas had standard toilets as of the end of 2015, and more than five million people still continue to defecate openly. In the Mekong Delta region, many fish ponds are used as toilets.
Meanwhile many schools, offices and public areas lack toilets, and those existing facilities are often sub-standard, affecting studying and working conditions and service quality as well as economic development, she added.
Poor public awareness and lack of attention on the part of local authorities are the main reasons behind the lack of sanitation facilities.
Huong urged ministries, localities and schools to boost popularisation of the importance of standard toilets among the public.
An UNICEF representative told the meeting that about one third of child deaths in Vietnam are linked to malnutrition, which is related to diarrhoea and parasitic worms caused by poor sanitation condition.
A show of standard toilets and a run to promote hygienic toilets for children took place at the meeting, attracting the participation of over 3,000 people.-