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Borikhamxay declared first open defecation free province of Laos

Borikhamxay was declared the first open defecation free province of Laos during a meeting held at the provincial administration office on Friday.
The declaration of the province as the first one to be free of the unhygienic practice of defecating in open areas is very important and meaningful for provincial and district governors, authorities and people.
The declaration benefits more than 30,000 people in 291 villages in the seven districts of Borikhamxay - Pakxan, Thaphabath, Pakkading, Borikhan, Khamkeuth, Viengthong and Xaychamphon.
Borikhamxay’s Governor, Dr Kongkeo Xaysongkham, said: “The Lao PDR has made a breakthrough in promoting sanitation with Borikhamxay being declared the first open defecation free province by the Ministry of Health.”
 “Since 2015, the partners of Borikhmxay have worked hard to achieve this goal. After hard and tireless efforts by communities over many years with the support of the government and Unicef, Borokhamxay has finally been declared as open defecation free, and the province will lead other provinces of Laos to reach the national goal of being totally free of open defecation by 2025.”
He added, “Achieving this goal will make people in the province healthier than before and they will be able to contribute to the province’s socio-economic development and make other efforts for the sustainable development of healthcare. Of course, our province has to continue to maintain its status being open defecation free.”
The Minister of Health, Associate Prof. Dr Bounkong Syhavong, said: “Lack of hygiene is a big obstacle for national development because it affects the health and education of people. Open defecation is the main cause of infections and diseases related to water, such as diarrhoea and cholera, and also leads to malnutrition and stunting in children. The Lao Social Indicator Survey II (LSIS II) indicated that 1.5 million people in Laos still practice open defecation.”
“I would like to congratulate provincial and district leaders and the people of Borikhamxay for working together and achieving success for reaching the national goal of ending open defecation by 2025. Besides, this will help the gradual progress of our country and set an example for other provinces.”
The representative of Unicef in Laos, Ms Beate Dastel, said: “Ending open defecation is the first step towards total sanitation. Unicef is proud to be part of this mission led by the community and government in Borikhamxay province.”
“Improved sanitation and appropriate hygiene behaviour of mothers and children are imperative for the best growth and development of children.”
 She added, “It is indeed a very significant occasion as Borikhamxay is now the first province in the country where the unhygienic and unsafe practice of defecation in the open, no longer exists. For this, I congratulate all of you who have contributed in making this province attain this status.
 “I wish to acknowledge the leadership of the provincial and district governors and the collaborative efforts of the many sectors who worked with provincial and district health, the Lao Women’s Union and its partners to increase access to basic sanitation in this province.”
 Ms Dastel further said, “After this important declaration, we need to consolidate these gains and maintain the status of open defecation free, which will help the province reach the goal of total sanitation by ensuring that all households use their own toilets. We also need to continue to promote good hygiene practices such as hand-washing with soap, cleaning households and surrounding environment.
 “Unicef is particularly concerned about the hard to reach rural areas, where many children are suffering from chronic diarrhoea, which leads to high levels of stunting.”
The project to end open defecation started in 2015 in all provinces of Laos. It is being implemented by the Ministry of Health with the support of Unicef.
The meeting to declare Borikhamxay as the first province that is open defecation free was organised at the provincial administration office on Friday. The chairman’s board included Borikhamxay Governor, Dr Kongkeo Xaysongkham, Minister of Health, Dr Bounkong and Representative of Unicef in Laos, Ms Beate Dastel.


By Visith Teppalath
(Latest Update August 4, 2020)

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