Ministry of Health (MoH) says hospitals will continue to face high disease burdens because the country has failed to achieve its target of eliminating open defecation by the end of this year.
MoH chief of health services Charles Mwansambo said only traditional authorities (T/As) Mwase of Kasungu, Mwadzama of Nkhotakota and Chapinduka of Rumphi have achieved the target.
He said during the certification ceremony for Mwadzama as open defaecation free (ODF)on Tuesday that half of the disease burden in hospitals results from lack of sanitation and hygiene in communities, adding that 25 of 100 deaths in hospitals are due to lack of proper sanitation and hygiene.
“If Malawians can heed messages on sanitation and hygiene, the country would cut by half illnesses in hospitals and that would mean a lot,” said Mwansambo.
He said the country has failed to achieve Millennium Development Goal (MDG) seven on sanitation by, among others, ending open defecation by December 2015, adding that only 63 percent of the people have toilets and 30 percent wash hands after using a toilet.
Mwadzama, whose area is one of beneficiary areas in six districts where Plan Malawi International is implementing a Global Sanitation Fund project, said he played a leading role in ensuring that all his 10 796 villagers have toilets.
Plan Malawi country director Lilly Omondi said her organisation will work to increase the number of T/As attaining an ODF status. n