Cholera outbreak- WHO supports Niger State to strengthen sanitation systems



Cholera outbreak- WHO supports Niger State to strengthen sanitation systems

The state is fully aware of the problem posed by sanitation especially in the urban areas

MINNA, Nigeria, September 17, 2021/APO Group/ —

Most people do not know what happens to their excreta when they flush the toilet or passed it out into the environment. But, for some houses in Niger state municipal, the sewages are broken down or blocked leading to improper disposal of untreated human waste into the environment.

Also, the state is not yet open defecation-free. These practices are not safe and poses various risks to human health from diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and worm. To strengthen sanitation systems towards preventing communicable diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) is supporting the Niger State government to implement a State Sanitation Safety Planning (SSP) to mitigate the health hazards from improper disposal of faecal sludge and grey wastewater management in the state through a risk management approach.

The Secretary to the Government of Niger State (SSG), Ahmed Ibrahim Matane, speaking during an advocacy visit from the members of Niger State Steering committee and WHO sanitation officer said the programme is of specific interest because it would reduce to the barest, minimum health hazards and communicable diseases posed by faecal sludge and open defecation in the state.

The team visited the SSG’s office to evaluate the current status of the state’s sanitation solicit the government’s support for the improvement of sanitation and environmental activities in the state. 

Alhaji Matane noted that the state is facing challenges with its sanitation management, and the government is determined to find a lasting solution to promote sanitation activities in the state. 

“The state is fully aware of the problem posed by sanitation especially in the urban areas, open defecation and disposal of faecal sludge are one of the greatest challenges and how it can be controlled to reduce health hazards”.

He further expressed his gratitude to WHO for selecting Niger state as one of the six states in the country where the SSP programme is been piloted. 

Addressing the sanitation challenges has become pivotal to mitigating the spread of water-borne diseases as a large percentage of the population suffer from gastrointestinal disorders. 

Recently, the state inaugurated a multi-sectoral committee supported by WHO, to develop a Sanitation Safety Plan (SSP) for the state. 

Members of the State Steering Committee was drawn from the Ministries of Water Resources and Dams Development, Environment, Agriculture, Health and Niger state Water and Sewage Corporation (NISWASEC), Rural Water Supply and Sanitation (RUWATSAN) Agency, Niger State Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), Niger State Primary Health Care Development Agency (NSPHCDA), Nigerian Environmental Society, and Academia.

In 2014, WHO estimated that moving from no sanitation to improved sanitation only reduces diarrhoea by 16%; however, when excreta are properly removed from households, treated and safely disposed of, an additional 63% reduction in diarrhoea results. To achieve this aim, WHO is helping six states in Nigeria ( Niger, Bayelsa, Lagos, Bauchi Sokoto and Abia) to develop the Sanitation Safety Plan (SSP), a risk management tool to help sanitation operators apply WHO’s Guidelines for safe use of wastewater, excreta and greywater in agriculture and aquaculture and identify and manage the health risks along the sanitation chain. This also incorporates the one health approach. 

In his remark, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Dams Management, and member of the committee, Alhaji Abubakar Sadiq Idris, said addressing faecal disposal and sanitation management requires multi-sectoral coordination and that is why the committee consists of an official from different departments. 

He noted that the problem cuts across the agricultural, water, environmental and health sectors. 

“The problem is interwoven, as such, you cannot tackle them in silos. Everybody needs to come together to find a solution. The waste is thrown into the environment and used by farmers who later show up in the hospital sick from diseases like cholera.  As such, I urge everyone to stop open defecation, use proper toilets, maintain their sewage, and treat water before using, he said. 

Meanwhile, the Niger state SSP facilitator, Dr Yahaya Saidu Madaki, said the SSP plan will assist the state implement and manage a sanitation service chain, including toilet containment/storage and treatment, conveyance, treatment and end-use or disposal. Some of the activities looked into included WASH coordination, Open defecation and sewage onsite facility inspection/assessment, SSP report validation workshop, media awareness campaigns and donation of WHO healthy cities wastes collection bins.

“The launching of the SSP is quite timely, given the outbreak of cholera in the country and the need to strengthen multisectoral coordination in addressing both communicable and non-communicable diseases through a one-health approach”, stated Dr Edwin Isotu Edeh, National Consultant, Public Health and Environment who spoke on behalf of WHO Nigeria Country Representative.

According to him, “SSP reduces the prevalence of diarrheal diseases, addresses direct and indirect Open Defecation, promotes health, reduce risks of groundwater pollution and assures occupational health and safety of workers in the sanitation chain.”

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