The Environmental Health Officers Association (EHOA) has decried the high rate of mortality among children as a result of communicable diseases such as diarrhea, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene, saying about 18% of children under the age of five die yearly globally.
The President, Environmental Health Officers Association, southeast zone, Mr Eze Emmanuel made this known in Enugu at a four-day International Conference on Environmental Health, said that huge sums of money had been lost in treating malaria adding that more than 2.5 million young children die annually across the globe due to malaria disease.
“In West Africa sub-region alone, malaria cases were estimated to be over one hundred million in 2016 with 224,000 deaths recorded. According to world malaria report 2017, Nigeria accounts for 27% of the global malaria cases and 30% deaths, making it the highest-burden country, yet about sixteen million US dollars was said to have been spent recently by the Nigerian government in the procurement of mosquito nets for its anti-malaria scheme.”
Mr. Emmanuel said that proper environmental sanitation had been widely recognized to be the most cost-effective in malaria reduction as well as other environmental-related diseases.
He, therefore, called for modifications of the treatment of the diseases through standard environmental health practice to reduce urban and community slums and also reduce huge spending by the government.
Emmanuel called on participants to look back with nostalgia to those good old days when thorough routine sanitary inspection of premises, Nigerians imbibed the practice of personal and environmental hygiene.
“Persuasion and enforcement of laws on sanitary inspection made our villages and communities clean,” he recalled.
The zonal environmental health boss however said that in the face of increasing emergence of strange epidemic challenges such as Ebola, haemorrhagic fever, avian influenza, infantile diarrhea, food poisoning, viral haemorrhagic fever, gastroenteritis, yellow fever, and the human-induced climate change, including the practice of open deification, it was expedient and incumbent on health sanitarians to rise up to their duties in order to remain relevant in the comity of professionals.
According to him, “We must, therefore, exhibit seriousness, patriotism, and true love for the profession while striving to maintain standards in our daily operations. It is my belief therefore that this conference couldn’t have come at a better time than now.”
He commended the recent signing into law, the bill establishing Environmental Health Department in Abia State Primary Health Care Development Agency by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, pointing out that it had reduced the rate of unemployment in the state.
The theme of the conference is: “Environmental Health Practice yesterday, today, and tomorrow” with participants drawn from the five states of the southeast geo-political zone namely; Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states.
It would be recalled that the environmental health profession has a very long history and it still holds the key to disease prevention in society.