The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed that over 50 million Nigerians do not have access to toilets hence resort to open defecation.
According to UNICEF, Nigeria ranks among the five countries in the world with the greatest rates of open defecation.
This was made known in a report issued yesterday by Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe, UNICEF ‘A Field Office’ Communication Officer (Advocacy, Media and External Relations) on behalf of Sanjay Wijesekera, head of UNICEF’s global water, sanitation and hygiene programmes, to coincide with World Toilet Day.
The report titled, Improving Nutrition Outcomes with Better Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, pointed out the emerging evidence of links between inadequate sanitation and malnutrition among children.
“Nigeria loses over 150,000 children to diarrhea annually. After pneumonia, it is the biggest killer of Nigeria’s under-fives; 88 per cent of diarrhoea cases in Nigeria are attributed to unsafe water and sanitation. Where rates of toilet use are low, rates of diarrhoea tend to be high,” Wijesekera was quoted to have said.
“Intestinal parasites such as roundworm, whipworm and hookworm are transmitted through contaminated soil in areas where open defecation is practiced. Hookworm is a major cause of anaemia in pregnant women, leading to malnourished, underweight babies.
“We need to bring concrete and innovative solutions to the problem of where people go to the toilet, otherwise we are failing millions of our poorest and most vulnerable children,” said Wijesekera.