Environmental health experts in Nigeria have expressed worry over the multiple health implications of open defecation. Every year more than 70,000 children under five die in Nigeria from diarrhoea as a result of unsafe water and poor sanitation conditions. At least 24% (47 million people) of the population practise open defecation, according to a 2018 national survey. As Nigeria battles to achieve the 2025 target of eradicating the menace, the National President of Environmental Health Officers Association of Nigeria, Dr Samuel Akingbehin, said the nation’s record as number one in the global index of countries practising open defection demands urgent actions.
Akingbehin in a statement said the eradication of open defecation in the country would dominate discourse during the 51st National Scientific Workshop and 2nd International Conference on Environmental Health, scheduled to hold in December in Kano State.
He noted that the conference with the theme, ‘Open Defecation Free Community: A Key to Achieving Sustainable Health, Social and Environmental SDGs in Nigeria,’ will provide the desired opportunity for professionals and other environmental health stakeholders to brainstorm on effective strategies to stop the practice.
“It is sad that we are grappling with open defecation in the country. As environmental health professionals, we are concerned about the attendant health implications and other issues of public health.
And that is why EHOAN has made it the main discourse during the conference. It is expedient we discuss the menace and strategies to expedite action on how to eradicate it.
It is high time we got more serious with the enforcement of the laws. The practice gives rise to air and water-borne diseases that affect people. Every state of the federation has a law against open defecation. There is the need to enforce the laws by health officers, prosecute and punish offenders to serve as a deterrent to others.”
Akingbehin said, adding that the association was committed to evolving sustainable professional strategies to abate the phenomenon.