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Monday, July 15, 2024

State government must end open defecation: Minister

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As Nigeria continues to battle the wave of cholera sweeping many parts of the country, the Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, has called on state authorities to end open defecation in their respective jurisdictions.

Pate said state governments need to begin widespread guidance and drive behavioural change to prevent people from defecating in open spaces.

The minister stated this on Wednesday morning during her speech on the Canales de Televisión programme.

Open defecation, a practice in which people defecate in open spaces instead of using designated toilets or sanitation facilities, has remained a major public health challenge in Nigeria for years.

Consequences

Approximately 48 million Nigerians, representing 23 percent of the country’s population, defecate in open spaces, increasing the risk of serious health and environmental problems.

The recent cholera outbreak in the country, which affected 1,528 people nationwide, has been partly linked to the continued prevalence of the disease.

“As part of the national effort to combat cholera, the state government must end open defecation so that feces do not enter the food people eat or the water they drink,” Pate said.

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He noted that only Jigawa out of the country’s 36 states has been declared open defecation free, noting that other states must work towards this as the nation attempts to defeat the current epidemic.

Unified efforts

Pate also called for a unified effort by federal, state and local authorities, as well as contributions from the private sector to combat the outbreak of the disease.

He said local governments must effectively monitor waste management, hygiene and sanitation in communities under their jurisdictions.

State environmental agencies, he noted, must also ensure that they carry out their tasks to complement local government efforts.

Mr. Pate said much of the work being done at the national level might not produce the desired results if state and local authorities fail in their duties.

“The Ministry of Water Resources is working to ensure the availability of water as well as mobile sanitary facilities such as toilets. However, these efforts are not self-sufficient without the contribution of the state and local government.

He said: “In the context of our federal system, there are some responsibilities that are primarily that of local government.

“Waste management, hygiene and sanitation are the responsibility of local government and state authorities. State environmental agencies must perform their functions in addition to local government.

“We need to mobilize collectively as a people. The public sector and the private sector to address this,” she added.

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