The federal government has revealed that more than 3.5 million children suffer from diarrheal diseases, calling for improved hygiene from Nigerians.
Speaking at the Year’s National Environmental Sanitation Day (NESD), the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Mr Ibrahim Yusufu lamented that hygienic habits mostly affect children who are are less than 5years old.
He said: “Poor sanitation has been identified as being responsible for a significant percentage of preventable communicable diseases particularly in developing countries including Nigeria. A large number of children die every year due to sanitation and hygiene enabled diseases. More than 3.5 million children suffer from diarrheal diseases and this is not a small figure. Children, who are less than five years old, are more prone to such diseases.”
He added that: “The advent of emerging and re-emerging diseases such as COVID-19, Lassa Fever, Monkey pox, Cholera etc. in Nigeria has further underscored the fact that access to Sanitation and Hygiene is not only a fundamental human right that safeguards public health and human dignity but also an essential need when it comes to disease prevention.”
Yusufu said: “This year’s National Environmental Sanitation Day, therefore calls for individuals, communities, governments at all levels, development partners etc. to be involved in the planning and implementation of sanitation and hygiene activity within their immediate environment, community and the nation at large.
He said this year’s theme “Promoting sustainable waste management for a healthy environment: stop open dumping” could not be more apt and timely considering the critical role sanitation and hygiene play in preventing and controlling the spread of infectious diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid fever, Lassa Fever, COVID-19 virus, Monkey pox virus etc. The theme is also a clarion call for every one of us to work together and leverage on lessons learned from response to COVID-19 to address the neglect of sanitation and hygiene as a major means of preventing and controlling transmission of sanitation and hygiene associated infectious diseases.
The Permanent Secretary said: “Let me at this point use this forum to call on all State Governments, Commissioners of Environment, Local Government Chairmen and Councilors, Environmental Health Officers, NGOs, CBOS, FBOs, Development partners, Organized private sector, Traditional and Religious leaders etc. across the country to actively step up their Sanitation and hygiene campaigns as an effective means of controlling and preventing disease transmission.”
He commended the contribution of World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Children’s Fund ((UNICEF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Water Aid, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Action Against Hunger, Procter and Gamble, and other stakeholders in supporting sanitation and hygiene in Nigeria.
A Director in the ministry, Mr Charles Ikeah, said that open dumping of waste had long been a detrimental practice that not only polluted the environment but also poses serious health hazards to communities.
“The consequences of open dumping are far-reaching, affecting not only the present but also the future generation. It is a problem that demands our immediate attention and concerted efforts.
“By addressing the issue of open dumping, we contribute to the preservation of our natural resources, reduction of pollution and protection of lives,” he said.
Ikeah noted that the theme was appropriate, as promoting sustainable waste management was not just a responsibility but also morally imperative.
“It is our duty to safeguard the environment for our children and grandchildren, ensuring that they inherit a planet that is conducive to healthy living.”