By Miriam Humbe, Abuja
The Minister of
Environment, Barr. Mohammed H. Abdullahi has said that more than 3.5 million children suffer annually from diarrheal and sundry diseases in Nigeria due to poor sanitation and hygiene.
Barr. Abdullahi said this on Tuesday at the 2022 National Environmental Sanitation Day Commemoration in Abuja.
Reporters’Diary gathered that the Minister said this was not a small figure as children under the age of five were more prone to such diseases.
The Minister said that the National Environmental Sanitation Day was a national advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding on the importance of Sanitation and hygiene as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases, save lives and ensure effective and quality sanitation delivery services as well as meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 6 by 2030.
He said that this year’s theme: “A Clean Environment is a Healthy Environment: Get Involved” could not be more apt and timely considering the critical role Sanitation and hygiene played in preventing and controlling the spread of infectious diseases such as Cholera, Typhoid fever, Lassa Fever, COVID-19 virus, Monkey pox virus e.t.c.
Abdullahi said that the theme was also a clarion call for everyone to work together and leverage lessons learned from response to COVID-19 to address the neglect of Sanitation and hygiene as a major means of preventing disease transmission.
He said that the National Environmental sanitation Day Commemoration was established by Mr. President in year 2005 at the launch of the National Environmental Sanitation Policy document and its’ guidelines to be commemorated on 28th June annually.
He said: “Since then, the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with stakeholders has been celebrating the day to mark the importance of Sanitation and hygiene as a veritable tool for disease prevention and control.
“Although, this 2022 edition is being commemorated today due to security challenges in the earlier proposed state to host the event, the importance and benefit of creating awareness, behavioral change and institutionalization of sanitation and hygiene practices among the citizens are our driver in implementing this programme by this period of the year.”
He said that poor sanitation had been identified as being responsible for a significant percentage of preventable communicable diseases particularly in developing countries including Nigeria.
He said: “Addressing sanitation and hygiene challenges in the country is a necessary and worthwhile investment for government at all levels.
“This is because for every One Hundred naira (N100) spent improving sanitation and hygiene, between Three Hundred naira (N300) and Four Hundred naira (N400) is saved which can be invested in health, education, social and economic development.
“Therefore, I want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians especially those in places of authority (public or private) to ensure adequate provision for Sanitation and Hygiene.
“The advent of emerging and re-emerging diseases such as COVID-19, Lassa Fever, Monkey, Cholera e.t.c 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.
“This year’s National Environmental Sanitation Day therefore calls on individuals, communities, government at all levels e.t.c to be involved in the planning and implementation of sanitation and hygiene activity within their immediate environment and community.
“In the effort to promote Clean and Safe Environment, the Ministry with other Stakeholders has validated the National Environmental Sanitation Policy of 2005 and its guidelines on Pest and Vector Control, School
Sanitation, Market and Abattoir Sanitation, Sanitary Inspection of Premises, Solid Waste Management and Safe excreta and sewage disposal: construction of public toilets in public places (Schools, markets) e.t.c
“Recently, the Ministry initiated a programme tagged “Clean and Green” and one of its major aims is to advocate for clean environment.
“There are so many steps already taken in the direction of success of this campaign, by creating awareness in the public places on the important of keeping our environment clean.
“In order to further strengthen/sharpen the policy drive for addressing this problem, the Ministry has also set up a Sanitation Desk in the 36 States of the Federation and FCT and also established Integrated National Environmental Health and Sanitation Surveillance System.
“In addition, the Federal Ministry of Environment has been carrying out sanitary inspection of all Federal Government establishments, including Federal Government Schools, Ministries, Parastatals, Agencies Military and Paramilitary Barracks, Public places such as Petrol Stations, Abattoirs, Motor Park, Markets and regulated food premises such as hotels, eateries e.t.c.
“This sanitary inspection will be scaled up to the Government Establishment nationwide to enable the Ministry address the issues of clean environment, food safety and vector control and the general environmental sanitation of the country.
“I wish to reiterate that environmental sanitation is imperative for socioeconomic development. Its impact on all the Sustainable Development Goals cannot be overlooked and most especially the Goal 6 – Improved Access to Clean Water and Sanitation.
“The proportion of people without sustainable access to basic sanitation in the recent analysis stated that less than half of the Nigerian population has access to improved sanitation facilities. In addition, many of our city centres, communities and households still battle with the problems of waste management.
“This year National Environmental Sanitation Day celebration commenced on Saturday, 24th September 2022 with a pre-commemorative activity “sensitization and flag-off demonstration of cleaning exercise” at Karonmajigi Community in FCT where the Chief of the Community personally demonstrated the clean-up exercise around his community in order to encourage his subjects to emulate him and imbibe the culture of good Environmental Sanitation practices.
“The Ministry will sustain this community environmental sanitation programme starting with communities in FCT and this will be scaled up to other states in due course.
“Let me at this point use this forum to charge all state Governments, Commissioners of Environment, Local Government Chairmen/Councillors, Environmental Health Officers, NGOs, CBOs, FBOs, Development partners, Organized private sector etc. across the country to actively step up their Sanitation and hygiene campaigns as an effective means of controlling and preventing disease transmission.
“Finally, let me reiterate that the National Environmental Sanitation Day is more than just a day; Sanitation and hygiene should become an integral part of our everyday life.”
He urged all media organizations to join the Federal Ministry of Environment and other stakeholders as partners in progress in propagating Sanitation and hygiene practices to the general public, children, families, communities, associations etc. as one of the measures to reduce the country’s disease burden.
He appreciated his co-host, the Minister for FCT, Mohammed Musa Bello, other Ministers present, Inter-Ministerial committee on
National Environmental Sanitation as well as WHO, UNICEF, UNDP, Water Aid, UNEP, BA-N and other partners supporting Sanitation and Hygiene in Nigeria saying that his Ministry has enjoyed rich collaborative relationship with them hoped this would get better in the future.
In his welcome remarks, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry, Engr. Hassan Musa said that among other things, that poor environmental sanitation makes people sick and for adults, it means less income.
He said that it also makes children sick as it limits their ability to absorb nutrients no matter how much food they receive.
Engr. Usman said: “I wish to express any sincere gratitude for your participation in this year’s National Environmental Sanitation Day.
“It is my belief that all efforts of the Government of Nigeria, development partners and civil society organisations in raising the awareness and advocacy on importance of good environmental sanitation and hygiene practices will produce a community with minimal disease transmission.
“I want to assure you that my Ministry will continue to promote sound sanitation and hygiene practices in our dear entry.”