Stakeholders from the environment and health have started processes to collect and digitize data on environmental health in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
They expressed optimism during a one day meeting in Abuja, Friday, February 4, 2022. They expressed hope that the country would have data to track progress on environmental health.
Mrs Rita Okea from the Federal Ministry of Environment’s Head, Environmental Health and Sanitation Division, stated that the meeting was a platform to establish a partnership for Nigeria’s environmental health system.
According to her, the long-awaited dream will be realized as the Integrated National Environmental Health Surveillance System INEHSS, a one stop shop for qualitative data.
Okea stated that the INEHSS would focus on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene as well as Air quality and safety, climate change and safety, and chemical safety and ewaste, and food safety.
She encouraged all stakeholders to increase collaboration and renew their commitment to making Nigeria work in accordance with international best practices.
Dr Edwin Isotu Edeh, National Consultant, Public and Environmental Health, WHO Nigeria, stated that the meeting was crucial because digitizing environmental health data was important for public health.
He said that an estimated 12.6 million deaths annually were attributed to unhealthy environment with over 100 deaths and injuries linked to environmental risk factors.
He stated that everyone in Nigeria should live in a clean and healthy environment. This is the key to universal health coverage.
Isotu-Edeh stated that climate change and air pollution were the top 10 threats to global health at the World Health Assembly in 2019.
Environmental Health work is concerned with addressing root causes of diseases in three strategic directions to promote healthier environments, prevent disease and influence public policies that address environmental sanitation to health.
He said that it is vital to invest in an effective environmental surveillance system for WASH and in air-quality monitoring and policy implementation in order to achieve universal health coverage as well as environmental sustainability.
Isotu Edeh stated that Nigeria has a policy framework to address environmental health and sanitation. He also mentioned the UN Sustainable Development Partnership Framework 2018-2022 (UNSDPF).
He stated that the Multi-Sectoral National Environmental Response Team was established to respond to Lassa fever emergencies, and to institutionalize community sanitation.
By Tosin Kolade