Pate, Health Ministry RAN autonomy
Prof. Muhammed Ali Pate

Cholera Outbreak: States Must End Open Defecation — Minister

As Nigeria continues to battle with the wave of cholera sweeping through many parts of the country, the Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate, has called on state authorities to end open defecation in their respective jurisdictions.

Mr Pate said the state governments must begin a widespread orientation and push for a behavioural change that will stop the population from defecating in open spaces.

The minister said this Wednesday morning while speaking on the Channels Television programme.

Open defecation, a practice of people defecating in open spaces rather than using toilets or designated sanitation facilities, has remained a significant challenge to Nigeria’s public health for years.

About 48 million Nigerians, representing 23 per cent of the country’s population, defecate in open spaces, increasing this risk of severe health and environmental issues.

The recent outbreak of cholera in the country, affecting 1,528 persons across the country, has been linked in part to the continued prevalence of the disease.

“As part of the nationwide effort to fight cholera, the state government needs to put an end to open defecation so that faeces do not come into the food that people consume or the water that people drink,” Mr Pate said.

He noted that only Jigawa out of the country’s 36 states has been declared open defecation free, noting that other states must work towards this as the nation tries to beat the present epidemic.

Mr Pate also urged for a unified effort from federal, state, and local authorities as well as the private sector’s contributions towards combating the disease outbreak.

He said the local governments must effectively monitor waste management, hygiene, and sanitation in communities under their jurisdictions.

State environmental agencies, he noted, must also ensure that they carry out their tasks to complement the local government’s efforts.

Mr Pate said a lot of work ongoing at the national level might not produce the desired results should state and local authorities fail in their functions.

“The Ministry of Water Resources is working to ensure the availability of water as well as mobile sanitation facilities like toilets. However, these efforts are not self-sufficient without the contribution of the state and the local government.

He said: “In the context of our federal system, there are some responsibilities that are primarily of the local government.

“Waste management, hygiene, and sanitation depend on local government and the state authorities. State environmental agencies must carry out their functions in addition to the local government.

“We need to mobilise collectively as a people. Public sector and private sector to address this,” he added.