Forum: Littering the most critical public health challenge

I refer to The Straits Times report, (Keeping S'pore clean a priority, says Grace Fu, Aug 22), as well as the Forum letters (Over a third refuse to return trays, clear used tissues at hawker centres by the National Environment Agency, Aug 21; and Dangers of bad habits at hawker centres not taken seriously by Ms Susan Tan Lin Neo, Aug 13).

The Public Hygiene Council (PHC) has long been advocating a carrot and stick approach, and supports the announcement by Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu to introduce amendments to the Environmental Public Health Act this year to institute a regime for proactive cleaning at premises.

We also reiterate our belief that businesses in food centres should improve their premises by building tray return stations in more convenient locations and upgrading public toilets.

We share the sentiments expressed by NEA and Ms Susan Tan, and agree that good cleanliness and hygiene is a basic necessity of life.

The PHC has over the years conducted many outreach campaigns with community partners and schools to foster a litter-free environment.

We have repeatedly stressed the need to practise good hygiene habits, such as returning our crockery and trays, binning our trash, and keeping public toilets clean and dry.

Littering is the most critical public health battlefront. If we lose this battle, our efforts to wipe out Covid-19 and dengue will be much harder.

Underscoring this, the PHC's annual Keep Clean, Singapore! 2020 campaign, which will be launched on Sept 19, aims to raise public awareness of the potential health hazards of littering.

Litter can attract disease-bearing pests and also create stagnant pools of water where mosquitoes breed. Even used tissues and masks strewn about can transmit germs and viruses.

We hope all Singaporeans will join us in this campaign against littering.

It is ultimately up to all of us to help keep Singapore cleaner and safer for one another and our families.

Edward D'Silva

Chairman

Public Hygiene Council