Environment Health Officers say diseases such as diarrhea, inadequate sanitation and poor hygiene account for about 18% of deaths among the under-five children globally.
The President, Environmental Health, Officers Association, South East zone, Mr. Eze Emmanuel said that huge sums of money had been lost in treating malaria.
According to him, more than 2.5 million young children die annually across the globe due to malaria disease.
In tackling this, Mr Emmanuel said that 887 licensed environment health officers have been registered in the South-east and more officers would be registered.
Mr Emmanuel was speaking in Enugu at a four-day International Conference on Environmental Health.
“In West Africa sub-region alone, malaria cases were estimated to be over one hundred million in 2016 with 224,000 deaths recorded. According to world malaria report 2017, Nigeria accounts for 27% of the global malaria cases and 30% deaths, making it the highest burden country, yet about 16 million US dollars was said to have been spent recently by the Nigerian government in the procurement of mosquito nets for its anti-malaria scheme,” he explained.
Mr. Emmanuel said that proper environment sanitation had been widely recognised to be most cost-effective in malaria reduction as well as other environment related diseases.
He therefore called for modifications of the treatment of the diseases through standard environment health practice to reduce urban and community slums and also reduce huge spending by government.
Mr. Emmanuel also called on participants to look back with nostalgia to those good old days when through routine sanitary inspection of premises, Nigerians imbibed the practice of personal and environmental hygiene.
“Persuasion and enforcement of laws on sanitary inspection made our villages and communities clean,” he recalled.
The zonal environment health boss however said that “in the face of increasing emergence of strange epidemic challenges such as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, avian influenza, infantile diarrhea, food poisoning, viral haemorrhagic fever, gastroenteritis, yellow fever, and the human induced climate change, including the practice of open deification, it was expedient on health sanitarians to rise up to their duties in order to remain relevant in the comity of professionals.
According to him, “We must therefore exhibit seriousness, patriotism, and true love for the profession while striving to maintain standards in our daily operations. It is my believe therefore that this conference couldn’t have come at a better time than now.”
Mr Emmanuel commended the recent signing into law, the bill establishing Environment Health Department in Abia State Primary Health Care Development Agency by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
He said that it had reduced the rate of unemployment in the state.
The theme of the conference is: “Environment Health Practice yesterday, today, and tomorrow” with participants drawn from the five states of the South East geo-political zone namely; Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo states.
Environment health profession has a very long history and it still holds the key to disease prevention in the society.