PAKWACH. Patients at Pakwach health centre (HC) IV are at risk of contracting more diseases if authorities don’t find solutions to the sinking latrines at the health facility.
The expectant mothers at the maternity wing who are the most affected said it is increasingly becoming hard to bath particularly after delivery in the shelters designated for them due to the poor hygiene.
"We prefer going to River Nile in search of where to ease and bath as the situation here is unbearable. Sometimes we find people have defecated outside the toilets and most of my colleagues are forced to go to the staff quarters," Ms Mary Ajok one of the expectant mothers said.
She observed that most of the women in the labour ward share their latrine with patients while others move to nearby homesteads and hotels for nature’s call as they battle with time.
At one of the health facilities, most of the designated latrines are filled up while others have spoilt doors.
But an official from the health facility who spoke on condition of anonymity said the major challenge hampering latrine construction is the poor soil texture thus exposing risk of sinking at tender stage.
Recently, the national environmental management authority (NEMA) condemned any further toilet construction at the facility due to its proximity to the river that exposes people to the risk of using contaminated water.
It recommended that there is urgent need to shift the health centre site to the district headquarters in Kapita cell so as to upgrade it to the hospital status in order to avert such challenges.
According to Ms Judith Kigezi, the Pakwach town council health inspector, latrine and safe water coverage in the district is still a challenge with Alwi Sub County having 43% safe water coverage and 27% cases of hand washing after toilet visitation.
She said such practices are risky and if not urgently dealt with, they may expose the community to feacal related diseases like typhoid diarrhea and cholera.
Kigezi said with the joint efforts from the district health department, they are implementing the communication let total sanitation (CLTS) that seeks to ensure that the community demands for good sanitation and action.
But she said the approach has been slow in meeting their goal of 100% latrine coverage in the entire district.
"Open defecation is on increase and the few traditional pits are not smeared. In primary schools, the cases are alarming since there are no squatter covers to prevent flies from sitting and spreading the faecal matter thus exerting pressure on the large school population," Kigezi said.
Meanwhile Mr Michael Ochan, the Wanglei A village chairperson said the town council and well-wishers should use the appalling situation to construct echo sand toilets that are applicable in urban settings for commercial use at affordable prices as long term solutions is being saught.
Mr Benjamin Wanican, the acting in charge of Pakwach health centre acknowledged that the facility’s latrines are in terrible state but attributed it to the bad usage behaviour by the patients.
"The patients themselves are to blame for using materials such as stones, grass and plastics which don’t decompose in the latrines, making them to get filled up very fast," Wanican said.
He added that efforts to frequently empty the latrines have been hampered by limited finance remitted to the health centre.