Mary Akanmu, Abuja
Piqued by the state of poor sanitation in the country, Wife of Senate President, Toyin Saraki has stated that Nigeria’s poor sanitation and hygiene kills Nigerians more annually than Boko Haram terrorists.
She also said the country loses $3.38 billion annually to poor sanitation condition which constitute 0.9% per cent of Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products.
Mrs. Saraki stated this during a stakeholder meeting organised by an international nongovernmental organisation, WaterAid and Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta – PIND Foundation. to celebrate this year’s World Water Day on Wednesday in Abuja.
She said: “We know that one out of three Nigerians does not have clean water close to home and two in three do not have a decent household toilet. This contributes to the deaths of nearly 60,000 children under five each year of diarrhea illnesses caused by dirty water, poor sanitation and poor hygiene.
“Our WASH conditions kill more people annually in Nigeria than have died in conflict with Boko Haram. According to WaterAid, it also means a loss of 0.9% of our GDP, around $3.38 billion a year.
“Women and infants are dying needlessly in labour rooms, with maternal sepsis taking a mother’s life at what should be the most joyous of times.
“I believe that if we truly intend to leave no-one behind, we must start with a toilet for all and ensure that after using that toilet, handwashing with soap ensures clean hands for all.”
Mrs. Saraki said she will be working with the World Bank on its campaign in Nigeria to end open defecation, which stands at 25 percent and posed a serious sanitary hazard to Nigerians.
She said her organisation, Wellbeing Foundation Africa launched a water, sanitation and hygiene campaign when it discovered that Nigeria’s sanitation condition was getting worse.
“We did so because of the overwhelming evidence coming back to us from our frontline healthcare programmes that we had to retrace our steps – that WASH indices in Nigeria were not only poor; but were worsening in many instances.
“WASH indices are often, rightly, discussed as statistical values. That is of course crucial to any national plan, and the WBFA staunchly advocates for improved civil registration and vital statistics systems.
“Meanwhile, poor WASH conditions endanger Infection Prevention and Control systems. The fact that outbreaks of diseases have been so severe in Nigeria recently – with the WHO commenting that the Lassa fever outbreak last year was unprecedented – is no coincidence,” she said.