Batangtoru, 22 December 2022 – The operator of Martabe Gold Mine, PT Agincourt Resources (PTAR), initiated the Declaration of Stop Open Defecation (OD) in 32 directly affected villages in Batangtoru and Muara Batangtoru, South Tapanuli. PTAR initiated this program in 2015 by pouring funds of up to IDR1.16 billion to facilitate ODF (Open Defecation-Free) status and educate the community on sanitation and healthy lifestyle.
Senior Manager Community of PT Agincourt Resources, Christine Pepah, said Stop OD (Open Defecation Free/ODF) Program aims to realize hygienic and sanitary community behavior independently to improve the highest degree of public health. The Stop OD program is also intended to prevent environmental-based diseases and increase access to drinking water and sanitation.
“For 7 years until this point, we have finally been able to create ODF area around the mine, namely Batangtoru District and Muara Batangtoru District. It does take a long time to build awareness and change people’s behavior. Therefore, we would like to thank various parties, including the Government of South Tapanuli Regency, Batangtoru Public Health Center, and Hutaraja Public Health Center who have worked hard, so that this program can run well. Also the health cadres who directly interact with the community,” Christine said.
She added that Stop OD program contributes to the 6th Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), namely ensuring the availability and sustainable management of clean water and sanitation for all people. One of the items of Goal 6 is to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all people and to stop open defecation practice, as well as to pay special attention to the needs of females, and vulnerable community groups.
Christine explained that Stop OD Program will continue to be developed by improving the sanitation levels in community. Shared Communal Toilets will be upgraded to Semi-Permanent Healthy Toilets (JSSP), while current JSSP will be upgraded to Permanent Healthy Toilets (JSP).
“Another plan is the completion of the second to fifth pillars of Community-Based Total Sanitation Program/STBMin all villages in Batangtoru and Muara Batangtoru Districts,” said Christine.
The Stop OD Program that was successfully implemented in Batangtoru and Muara Batangtoru Districts was marked by Stop OD Declaration in Sopo Daganak, Batangtoru, on 21 December 2022, crowded by approximately 500 people. The declaration began with a carnival themed on the 5 pillars of STBM Program, namely Stop OD, handwashing with soap, household drinking water/food management, household waste management, and household liquid waste management.
Other activities in Stop OD Declaration are the 5 Pillars of STBM Program Health Seminar with speakers from North Sumatra Health Agency; the Conferment of Stop OD certificates and awards to villages/subdistricts, Batangtoru and Muara Batangtoru Districts, Batangtoru and Hutaraja Public Health Centers, Stop OD activists at Puskesmas level, South Tapanuli Health Agency, and PTAR; as well as dance and drama performances from each Puskesmas with the theme of STBM Program.
Representing the Regent of South Tapanuli, Acting Regional Secretary of South Tapanuli, M. Frananda, expressed his appreciation for PTAR’s collaboration with various parties so that Stop OD Program could be realized in Batangtoru and Muara Batangtoru.
“I used to dream that at every river there was a sign ‘River is not Toilet’, so river is not only beautiful, but also makes the community healthy, because open defecation behavior can cause growth disorders in children and cause other health problems. Therefore, I think that Stop OD Program is very remarkable and we hope that this program will be sustainable,” said Frananda.
He also hopes that Stop OD Program is spread to 13 other districts in South Tapanuli, with faster duration of Stop OD readiness per district because it can model the successful implementation of the program in Batangtoru and Muara Batangtoru.
Stop OD program is critically needed in South Tapanuli. Referring to the data from North Sumatra Health Agency, in 2016 South Tapanuli Regency was at the bottom 11th out of 33 regencies/cities in terms of toilet ownership. Not surprisingly, it is quite easy to find residents defecating in open places, such as in plantations, rice fields, rivers, and other open land. In fact, the bad habit of open defecation can cause health problems and the risk of diseases such as diarrhea, worms, and typhoid. These three diseases are the most diseases caused by sanitation factors recorded at the Public Health Centers of Batangtoru and Muara Batangtoru.
In addition to Stop OD, other health programs focused by PTAR are the provision of services of specialist gynecologists, pediatrics, and internal medicine at Batangtoru Public Health Center as well as the provision of free medicines on doctor’s prescription and donation of supporting equipment for specialist doctor services. In 2021 alone, as many as 3,311 patients received services from specialist doctors provided by PTAR.