The Federal Ministry of Environment in Nigeria has called upon all citizens to recognise the importance of sanitation and hygiene in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases, drawing on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 response.
The ministry emphasised the need for governments at all levels and stakeholders to intensify their campaigns to promote sanitation and hygiene practices as effective disease prevention and control measures.
During the commemoration of the 2023 National Environmental Sanitation Day in Abuja, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Alhaji Ibrahim Yusufu highlighted the significant impact of poor sanitation on the prevalence of preventable communicable diseases, especially in developing countries like Nigeria. He emphasised that a large number of children die annually due to sanitation-related diseases, with over 3.5 million children suffering from diarrheal diseases.
The emergence of diseases such as COVID-19, Lassa Fever, Monkeypox, and Cholera has further emphasised the importance of access to sanitation and hygiene as fundamental rights that protect public health and prevent the spread of diseases. The National Environmental Sanitation Day serves as a call for individuals, communities, governments and development partners to actively participate in sanitation and hygiene activities within their environments to ensure a healthy nation.
The permanent secretary reaffirmed that environmental sanitation is crucial for socio-economic development and plays a significant role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goal 6, which focuses on improved access to clean water and sanitation. However, recent analysis shows that less than half of the Nigerian population has access to improved sanitation facilities, and waste management remains a challenge in many cities, communities and households.
The director of the Federal Ministry of Environment, Charles Ikeah highlighted the detrimental impact of open dumping of waste on the environment and public health. He stressed the need for immediate attention and concerted efforts to address this issue, emphasising the importance of innovative solutions that promote sustainable and healthy environments.
The government, development partners and civil society organisations are actively raising awareness and advocating for good environmental sanitation and hygiene practices. Their collective efforts aim to create communities with minimal disease transmission. The Ministry of Environment expressed its commitment to promoting sound sanitation and hygiene practices throughout the country, ensuring a healthier and safer Nigeria for all citizens.