The health minister of Uganda has expressed concern about the country's hygiene standards after revealing that 14.6 million people or 32.4% of the population still defecate in open areas.
The practice is still prevalent in both urban and rural areas; according to Dr. Diana Atwine, the ministry's permanent secretary; who was cited by local media on Tuesday.
She said in Kampala that despite government efforts to improve sanitation and hygiene, Uganda still faces problems with water and sanitation, with 23% and 9.4% of the population respectively, still using open defecation in rural and urban regions.
The health minister also voiced concern about ongoing subpar food hygiene and safety practices including selling food from filthy locations, preparing food over exposed drainage pipes, and careless waste disposal.
Atwine estimates that only 36% of communities in the nation have access to basic sanitation facilities; with 24% of those communities located in rural regions and 479.6% in urban areas.
"Hand washing is 35.8% in rural regions and 53.8% in urban areas," she continued.
The most recent comes shortly after Uganda's National Meteorological Authority (UNMA) issued a warning about the possibility of a rise in water-borne illnesses like bilharzia, malaria, and diarrheal illnesses like cholera and dysentery.
With the start of the rainy season, the weather service warned that an increase in illnesses associated with water should be anticipated.
According to George William Omony, head of Applied Meteorology at UNMA, "water sources are likely to get contaminated because of the excessive rainfall," he said on Friday.
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