‘Jamban gantung’ a health nightmare – Dr Jerip

Dr Jerip Susil

BINTULU: The possibility of a cholera outbreak in Bintulu will always be an arm’s length away because of one key factor – ‘jamban gantung’ (hanging latrines).

Assistant Minister of Local Government and Community Development (Public Health) Dr Jerip Susil said although Bintulu was growing fast, almost every single house along the river still had a hanging latrines.

He said this unsystematic way of disposing human waste was a time bomb of sorts for the recurrence of a cholera outbreak.

“The local authority must find concrete ways to resolve this matter. This is because the water source is not only used by animals and human, but it is also a place where children play and bathe, and where women do their laundry and wash dishes, especially in some longhouses” he told reporters after being briefed at the new Bintulu Polyclinic on the cholera outbreak here on Wednesday.

Dr Jerip said Bintulu was similar to what Miri was many years ago, except for the hanging latrines.

He cautioned that this kind of human waste disposal could also lead to many kinds of water-borne diseases such as cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea, dysentery and even skin diseases.

“There need to be put in place a holistic plan to resolve this problem. I hope parties such as the Bintulu Development Authority and the Health Department will look into this matter in order to help Bintulu develop into a healthy town.”

On the cholera outbreak here which was first reported on July 14, he said the number of cases had been decreasing of late, and that the isolation centre in Similajau PLKN camp had been closed.

“This means that the surveillance and mitigation by the relevant authorities had been effective, but this should not mean that we can now lie down and do nothing more because the way I see it the situation could recur because of houses along the riverbanks and the fact that clean water is not easily available in some longhouses and villages.”

Dr Jerip also reminded members of the public, especially food handlers at food stalls, coffee shops and restaurants, to always practise a high level of hygiene.

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