Open defecation, leading cause of death among under-five children

A GROUP under the aegis of the Centre For Environmental Sustainability and Development Awareness (CESDA), on Monday, identified open defecation as one of the leading causes of under-five mortality in the country.
The group’s Executive Director Olusola Babalola, who made the disclosure in Abuja, said the situation required an urgent multi-stakeholder partnership to address the growing trend among children under the age of five.
In his words, “Open defecation in public places is one of the underlying factors responsible for diarrhea that causes death of new born babies and children under five years of age.”
Though preventable, the World Health Organization (WHO) has described diarrhea, mostly caused by open defecation, as leading cause of under-five mortality. It kills 525, 000 children under age of five annually.

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Poor sanitation, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), increases vulnerability to water-borne diseases.
Hence, Babalola said the group had commenced a project funded by the British Council to end open defecation in motor parks and markets across the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
CESDA, according to him, has partnered with the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and the Market Men and Women Commodities Sellers Association of Nigeria, to increase awareness against the trend across markets and major parks in the territory and country at large.
He disclosed the group’s plans to commence clean-up exercise and sensitisation on open defecation and the effect of cholera in the identified markets and motor parks.
The project objectives include: increased awareness on the implication of open defecation to child health and mortality; improved cooperation among stakeholders in identifying and addressing challenges posed by open defecation; as well as reducing incidents of open defecation and diarrhea.

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”Members of the public will be engaged with IEC materials while identified locations/premises will be cleaned up,” Babalola added.
In view of this, he said market traders within the FCT had demanded a high-level meeting with the FCT minister and Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA) on the need to repair abandoned public toilets, especially at parks and markets.
“The traders believe that this will help to improve the situation and also create job opportunity for the youth who could be engaged to man the facility as token should be charged or collected from users as a fee to sustain the management of the facilities,” he added.

Olugbenga heads the Investigations Desk at The ICIR. Do you have a scoop? Shoot him an email at [email protected]. Twitter Handle: @OluAdanikin

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