The advisory of the DOH, in light of the COVID-19, to maintain a healthy lifestyle which includes regular and proper hand washing with soap and water or other disinfectants is not just good for today but for all times. There are harmful viruses everywhere, every time but they are kept at bay by our immune systems, and good health practices like cleanliness or hygiene.
Very basic requirements for these are soap and running water in all comfort rooms, public or private, especially in schools. Generally, however, our comfort rooms are a contradiction in terms. Hardly can the word ‘comfort’ be appropriate in describing them. Most of these don’t have running water, much less soap or other kinds of disinfectants.
In Baguio City, for instance, before the coming of the ‘pay comfort rooms,’ those in public places were best described as a ‘disease’ waiting to happen. Even now the CR at the pay parking area at Burnham Park popularly known as the Jadewell Area is not a hygienic one, by any stretch of the imagination. This is in the center of town and of the region.
How about schools in remote places? No decent comfort rooms. A once in a blue moon visit of a high ranking national official would usually reveal otherwise but these are always prepared for. A fact finding visit should be a surprise one and with the participation of the private sector or civil society to make it believable. For any claim of government agencies are usually suspect or popularly considered unbelievable. Such a prejudgment has been caused over the decades by government officials who consider lying to the people the norm.
So for the health of the people, the disconnect between the real state of our public and school comfort rooms and how they are considered in planning sessions or in theoretical discussions must disappear. For the real scenario is, if at all there is water in these, it is in drums better described as dengue mosquito breeding places.
On whose shoulders this responsibility falls? On those of local government and education officials. But during health emergencies such as now, the health department must be at the forefront in pushing these officials to act like they learned something in kindergarten as the regular washing of hands with soap and water, by enabling the public to do so through the provision of decent CRs.
And this should be all the time. Not only when there is a new scary virus like COVID-19. **