Solomon Islands is lagging behind its Pacific neighbors in sanitation and hygiene and needs to be sped up as quickly as possible, says the National Director of Environmental Health Tom Nanau.
Speaking to a youth radio workshop in Honiara on Monday, Mr Nanau said sanitation coverage in Solomon Islands is less than 18 per cent and water supply has just over a 43 per cent coverage.
He said this is a big challenge for his department and for the Ministry of Health which a current program funded by the Australian AID hopes to speed up.
“The government of the day has seen it a challenge and a core issue to ensure that we speed up coverage in terms of water, sanitation and hygiene as quickly as possible. Because of that under the AusAid Development Programme we have a transition plan that the Environmental Health Division of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services will shift from being contractors to the software part of this programme in that we will be dealing with enforcement, monitoring and assessments in regards to the programme.”
The Environmental Health National Director also announced that the program has changed from R-W-S-S to R-WASH, to reflect its emphasis on sanitation.
“As we know only water supply is currently strong rather than toilet and sanitation, which needs more improvement as well as personal hygiene or hygiene which is lacking. In the village this is an information that people don’t know, like washing hands after going to the toilets, washing hands after gardening, sweeping or other activities before eating, keeping the body clean and so forth, these are very important because even if we provide clean water and proper sanitation, but people know little about hygiene, the risk of disease transmission will continue because we do not put a barrier to it,” said Mr. Nanamu.