The World Health Organisation, WHO, has advised the Federal Government to strengthen environmental health surveillance and monitoring in the 774 Local Government Areas to bring back healthy and safe cities of the good old days.
Dr Clement Lasuba, Officer in-charge, WHO gave the advice in a goodwill message at the 2019 National Environmental Sanitation Day, NESD, Commemoration on Friday in Abuja.
The theme of the 2019 NESD: is “Stop open defecation for healthy living’’.
Mr Lasuba, represented by Edwin Edeh, the National Consultant Public Health and Environment of the WHO, said that environmental health system at the federal, state and local level should be repositioned to function 24 hours.
“This will bring back the good old days when we have clean and healthy cities, by implication, technical manpower must be increased, new technologies deployed, new systems and culture of working established to ensure cross sectoral benefits,’’ he said.
According to him, 47 million people defecate in the open with a handful of 13 out of 774 LGAs being open defecation free which therefore accounts for increasing prevalence and deaths from communicable diarrheal diseases such as cholera dysentery, typhoid among others.
“This realities place on us a strong need of paradigm shift and collective responsibility; this further draws our minds to three critical issues we must address to ensure that Nigeria is Open Defecation Free, ODF, by 2025.
“Nigeria must strengthen environmental health surveillance and monitoring in 774 LGAs; the need for Nigerians to have a change of attitude and culture of using and maintaining toilets.
“The need to strengthen the local government system to ensure steady provision of sanitary toilets in villages, communities and environmental sanitation services with full support of other stakeholders and partners.’’
Ibrahim Goni, the Conservator-General of the National Park Service in his goodwill message said that this year’s theme was significant to Nigeria, especially with the prevalence of the unhealthy practice in the country.
Mr Goni said that the challenges associated with environmental sanitation in the country were quite enormous, adding that the menace had also contributed immensely to pollution of the coastal and marine ecosystem, thereby exposing millions of people, especially children to diseases.
“Making our environment a better place to live in, is everyone’s responsibility, hence all hands must be on deck to ensure that we do right things at the right time as people,’’ he said.