Home News Nigeria still lagging behind on access to safe water; Diarrhea remains a major cause of death among young children – PSN

Nigeria still lagging behind on access to safe water; Diarrhea remains a major cause of death among young children – PSN

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By Becky John

A press release shared with Health Reporters by Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN) on 22nd March 2015 as part of the world celebration of World Water Day today, called on government of Nigeria and ordinary citizens to remember that behind the statistics are the faces of children. Globally, an estimated 2,000 children under the age of five die every day from diarrhoeal diseases and of these some 1,800 deaths are linked to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH).“Sometimes we focus so much on the big numbers, that we fail to see the human tragedies that underlie each statistic,” says Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programme. “If 90 school buses filled with kindergartens were to crash every day, with no survivors, the world would take notice. But this is precisely what happens every single day because of poor water, sanitation and hygiene”.

The press statement revealed that 2013 National demographic health survey (NDHS) have shown that 61 percent of the households in Nigeria have access to an improved source of drinking water. The results show an overall improvement in the quality of sources of water in Nigeria since the 2008 NDHS (when the figure was 56 percent). However more effort is needed to achieve fresh water and sanitation. Almost 63.2 million people in Nigeria don’t have access to safe water; over 112 million people don’t have access to adequate sanitation in Nigeria, (i.e. two thirds of the population) and over 97,000 children die every year from diarrhoea caused by unsafe water and poor sanitation in Nigeria. Most people in Nigeria still do not have access to safe drinking water, a key contributing factor for the high rates of diarrhea and related child deaths.

Diarrhoea which is often caused by unclean water as well as by poor sanitation and hygiene practices has remained one of biggest killers of children under five in Nigeria. According to UNICEF and WHO estimates, Nigeria is among a group of 10 countries that are home to almost two-thirds of the global population without access to improved drinking water sources. They are: China (108 million); India (99 million); Nigeria (63 million); Ethiopia (43 million); Indonesia (39 million); Democratic Republic of the Congo (37 million); Bangladesh (26 million); United Republic of Tanzania (22 million); Kenya (16 million) and Pakistan (16 million).

From the above statistics, it is obvious that Nigeria may not meet the fresh water for all target in the MDGs. Mechanism must be put in place to manage the cases of diarrhoea that may arise due to poor WASH in the communities.

PSN- PACFaH hereby recommends the following:

  1. There should be an increase buy-in/ support for zinc/low osmolarity-oral rehydration salt solution (Zn/lo-ORS) in the treatment of childhood diarrhoea.
  2. We encourage the government to incentivize local healthcare providers and private sector actors (Manufacturers, Importers, Distributors, and Community Pharmacies) to increase production, distribution and appropriate promotion of this essential Life-Saving Commodities –Zinc/lo-ORS.
  1. A call to create a specific budget line in the Federal Ministry of Health for the procurement of the essential Life-Saving Commodities, in order to benefit from the proven benefit of Economies of Scale through Pooled Procurement.

The press release was signed by Remi Adeseun FPSN, FNAPharm, the Program Director (Strategy) PSN-PACFaH

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