Mr. Olayinka Ogunleye who is an environmental health expert attributed illnesses in the country to poor water quality, hygiene and environment. Lack of access to safe drinking-water and basic sanitation, as well as poor hygiene cause nearly 90% of all deaths from diarrhea, mainly in children.
The disease burden from unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene is estimated at the global level taking into account various disease outcomes, principally diarrhea diseases. The risk factor is defined as including multiple factors, namely the ingestion of unsafe water, lack of water linked to inadequate hygiene, poor personal and domestic hygiene and agricultural practices, contact with unsafe water, and inadequate development and management of water resources or water systems.
According to the WHO, around 10% of the total burden of disease worldwide could be prevented by improvements related to drinking water, sanitation, hygiene, and water resource management. The latest estimates link unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation with about 88% (1.5 million) of deaths from diarrheal diseases (including cholera, typhoid and dysentery) in children younger than 5 years of age. Unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and insufficient hygiene are also associated with 2 billion nematode infections, 200 million cases of schistosomiasis, 0.5 million cases of malaria, as well as outbreaks of dengue, he added.
According to Mr. Ogunleye, adequate drinking water, sanitation, and hygiene are all essential ingredients to ensure human health. Many communicable diseases are contracted from poor environment, adding that poor sewage and waste control had also been a challenge to good health in many communities. Many developing countries are already today struggling to cope with chronic water shortages and the inadequacies of their existing water infrastructure.
The expert said that human body consist of a high percentage of water, said access to quality and enough water is also important for longevity and good quality of life.
He however, expressed concern on quality of water people use in Nigeria, saying even after treatment, the water sometimes get contaminated in the courses of its distribution to homes.
The quality of water in many streams in Nigeria, saying an assessment of the streams in Ibadan, for instance, found they were full of pollutants and our inability to be hygiene-conscious has resulted in some of the reoccurring communicable diseases that we are having presently, he added.
The environmental health expert also stressed the need for government to tackling the problem of sewage in the country as well as harvesting of waste water for food production.