Your life tied to the toilet | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Your life tied to the toilet

Posted: Apr 2, 2015 at 1:31 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Onche Odeh


To most people, the toilet is just a place to discharge faeces. What many do not know is that their lives are actually tied, by a great measure, to how feacal matters are discharged.

An unkept toilet

An unkept toilet

This fact has been reiterated by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which stated that open defecation among millions around the world continue to put children and their communities at risk.

In a statement, UNICEF said lack of a safe, clean toilet and practice of open defaecation seriously impact people’s health, wellbeing and dignity as well as efforts towards poverty reduction, economic and social development and the environment.

“There has been an upsurge in cholera cases in Nigeria which is primary due to poor sanitation and hygiene practices in the country,” the UN agency disclosed.

Citing from the recent epidemiology report from Federal Ministry of Health, UNICEF pointed out that Nigeria recorded 34,825 cases of cholera as against 2882 cases over the same period in 2013, adding, “ Every year over 150,000 Nigerian children die from diarrhoea alone, largely caused by unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene practices.”

According to UNICEF, some 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have adequate toilets and among them, one billion defecate in the open.

“Here in Nigeria, about 119 million people are not using safe toilets which includes 50 million people defecating in the open, making Nigeria one of the top five countries in the world with high population practising open defecation and the number of open defecators has been on increase since 1990,” UNICEF stated.

On Wednesday, 36 prominent international health and development experts including representatives from WaterAid, the World Medical Association, Commonwealth Medical Association, Global Health Council, International Confederation of Midwifes, the Nigerian Medical Association, Nigeria’s National Primary Health Care Development Agency, the Health Reform Foundation of Nigeria, the Nigerian Red Cross Society, and the Nigerian Medical Students Association amongst many others have called for an end to a crisis that has claimed the lives of over 10 million children under the age of five since the year 2000, with 1.1 million having died over this period in Nigeria also contributing to this figure.

In an open letter to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon, the signatories who represent over 620,000 health professionals globally, highlight the desperate waste of life caused by people not having access to a basic toilet.

Speaking on this phenomenon, WaterAid Nigeria Country Representative, Dr. Michael Ojo today said, “The dangers of poor sanitation and dirty water have been known for around 150 years, yet 121 million people (about 72 per cent of the population) do not have a basic toilet to use in Nigeria and nearly 40 million still defecate in the open.

“Those children need our government to collectively step up and commit that by 2030 no home, hospital or school will be without a toilet and clean water.”

The open letter to the UN Secretary-General coincides with a new briefing released by WaterAid: ‘Child of Mine’ which states that sanitation ‘remains one of the most neglected issues in developing countries and international development aid.