Solid waste management and Public Health

Waste is usually sought by ordinary people as a simple problem. This misleading concept of people is one of the reasons that this problem became a major dilemma in today’s environment as well as health of the public. It becomes apparent as years passed by that improper solid waste management is a major determinant of health and progress and also one of the difficult problems to be addressed in any place. It is difficult because the solution of the problem lies in the discipline and individual’s attributes  which is very hard to change. Change must come from within. There must be willingness from oneself and from every individual of the community in order to address this problem, not merely making laws and ordinances.

How important is waste management in public health? Infectious diseases in the early history such leprosy and the recent diseases such as tuberculosis give us evidences to its importance. Prior to the discovery of medication of these infectious diseases, there was already decrease in the morbidity and mortality as the general sanitation of the community and way of living had improved. As social scientists and public health experts put into words, we don’t need a lot of antibiotic and other medications to improve the state of health of the people, we just need to improve their living condition. In any public health planning, solid waste must be included in order it to be successful and have a greater impact in the community.

Regardless of the context, managing solid waste is one of biggest challenges of the urban and rural areas of all sizes, from mega-cities to the small towns and large villages. It is almost always in the top five of the most challenging problems for city and provincial managers. It is somewhat strange that it receives so little attention compared to other urban or rural management issues. The quality of waste management services is a good indicator of a municipality’s governance. The way in which waste is produced and discarded gives us a key insight into how people live. In fact if a municipality is dirty, the local administration may be considered ineffective or its residents may be accused of littering.

Usual observation is that the municipalities spend a substantial proportion of their available recurrent budget on solid waste management. There must be a great effort from stakeholders of the community to give emphasis on this and persuade the people of authorities not to take it lightly.

Good thing in the municipality of Sergio Osmena, there is a local unit known as MENRO  to oversee the solid waste management. They are mandated to implement R.A. 9003 or also known as Ecological Waste Management Act of 2000. With the partnership of ADZU-SOM students, barangay council, MENRO and other key persons in the community, we are hopeful to address this issue appropriately and efficiently.

–tahsin

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