Nigerian Minister Advocates Environmental Health and Sanitation as Cornerstones of Public Health

Nigerian Minister Advocates Environmental Health and Sanitation as Cornerstones of Public Health
Dr. Isiak Kunle Salako

Nigerian Minister Advocates Environmental Health and Sanitation as Cornerstones of Public Health

In a recent gathering of the National One Health Steering Committee in Abuja, Dr. Iziak Kunle Salako, Nigeria’s Minister of State for the Environment, underscored the pivotal role of robust environmental health and sanitation practices in fostering a healthy populace.

Salako emphasized the inadequacy of relying solely on vaccines to prevent and control the surge of both existing and resurging diseases.

Identifying poor environmental sanitation as a primary cause of over 100 waterborne, infectious, and vector-borne diseases, the minister stressed the imperative of prioritizing and upholding sound environmental practices for a thriving society.

Various ailments, including malaria, cholera, typhoid fever, infectious hepatitis, poliomyelitis, and several diarrheal conditions, have been linked to subpar environmental sanitation, leading to premature mortality, disability, and reduced productivity.

Highlighting the importance of the National One Health Strategy, Salako emphasized its multidisciplinary approach, aligning with global best practices.

This strategy tackles global health challenges related to zoonotic diseases, antibiotic resistance, food safety, and environmental health.

Salako reiterated the interconnectedness of human, animal, and environmental health, asserting that the One Health approach contributes to global health security by comprehensively addressing disease control from prevention to detection, preparedness, response, and management.

Referring to a WHO study, the minister revealed that environmental risk factors contribute to 29% of Nigeria’s national illness burden.

Alarming statistics include 47 million Nigerians practicing open defecation and 850,000 at risk of mercury poisoning from artisanal and small-scale gold mining operations.

The Federal Ministry of Environment has spearheaded various environmental health and sanitation initiatives, encompassing the formulation of a national environmental sanitation policy and the establishment of an integrated national environmental health surveillance system (INEHSS).

Additional endeavors involve the creation of Sanitation Desks in the environment ministries of 36 states, state-level capacity-building and training programs for Sanitation Desk Officers, and national interventions targeting environmental health and sanitation issues like cholera and Lassa fever.

Salako accentuated air pollution as a substantial environmental risk to human health in 12 Nigerian states. He lauded the One Health approach for recognizing the intricate connections between human, animal, and environmental health.

The minister also highlighted programs such as the Inter-Ministerial Committee on National Environmental Sanitation Programme, Health Care Waste Management Strategies, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Programs, and Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR) Programs.

Calling for collaborative efforts to assess progress, identify gaps, and propel future initiatives, Salako expressed gratitude to stakeholders for their unwavering commitment to the Nigeria One Health project.

He reassured them of the Federal Ministry of Environment’s dedication to collaboration with sister agencies, commending the Federal Ministry of Health & Social Welfare, NCDC, and Development Partners for their leadership and support in the Nigeria One Health project.



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