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WHO

The World Health Organization (WHO) has launched Sanitation Safety Planning (SSP) initiatives in five states to combat the spread of faecal-oral diseases and bolster sanitation practices nationwide.

Dr. Edwin Isotu-Edeh, National Consultant for Public Health and Environment at WHO Nigeria, unveiled this effort during the National Workshop on Safely Managed Sanitation (SMS) in Abuja on Thursday.

The selected states—Lagos, Bayelsa, Niger, Sokoto, and Bauchi—representing diverse geopolitical zones, serve as focal points for this comprehensive program, which commenced in 2021.

The interventions target various challenges, including the eradication of open defecation, combating water-borne diseases like cholera, addressing Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR), and advancing the Sustainable Development Goal 6 agenda.

Dr. Isotu-Edeh highlighted the urgent need for action in response to the substantial health risks associated with inadequate sanitation, such as outbreaks of WASH-related diseases like cholera, typhoid fever, diarrheal diseases, and neglected tropical diseases.

Citing Nigeria’s national disease burden, he underscored that a significant 29 percent is attributed to environmental risk factors, including insufficient WASH services, climate change impacts, and chemical exposure.

Dr. Isotu-Edeh raised concerns over sanitation statistics, revealing that 48 million people practice open defecation, with only 4.5 percent of Nigeria’s WASH investment allocated to sanitation.

He stressed the imperative for change, noting the absence of sanitation within the country’s annual economic plans. Dr. Isotu-Edeh urged policymakers to prioritize comprehensive sanitation measures for improved public health outcomes, highlighting the potential benefits of private sector involvement.

“It is concerning that sanitation has not been integrated into our economic plans; nevertheless, there are significant benefits within its value chain; we must collectively promote sanitation and enlist champions to drive this change process,” he emphasized.

Addressing the escalating vulnerability of health systems due to climate change, Dr. Isotu-Edeh warned that a projected temperature rise of 2-3°C could heighten the prevalence of water-borne diseases like cholera, typhoid, and lassa fever.

 

Dr. Ibrahim Kabir, Director General of Bauchi State Environmental Protection Agency (BASEPA), underscored the critical issue of faecal sludge management, posing a threat to public health safety in the state.

He highlighted health risks arising from water contamination due to improper faecal sludge disposal, necessitating the training of 1,063 manual pit latrine evacuators.

Dr. Kabir emphasized ongoing efforts to develop Faecal Sludge Management guidelines and stressed the importance of creating an enabling environment for private sector involvement in the sanitation value chain.

Advocating for a shift in attitudes, he urged all stakeholders to contribute to enhancing sanitation and promoting hygiene practices in the state.

The gathering, attended by stakeholders from national and subnational levels, development partners, and the private sector, represents a significant milestone towards achieving universal and sustainable access to sanitation.

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