Healthcare beyond hospital walls (2): The Environment

It’s the second of our blog series on healthcare beyond hospital walls. If you haven’t read the first check it out here.

It’s basically about awakening our consciousness to how we can view healthcare from a more holistic point of view.

This week we take a look  at our environment and other related issues that have a bearing on our overall health.

There is a need to look at the state of our immediate environment as in more ways than one it has an impact on our health.

Firstly, let’s consider sanitation, with the trend of rural-urban migration a lot of our big towns and cities are getting crowded and sanitary conditions are getting worse.

Waste disposal is virtually non existent in many cities and where it exists it’s inefficiently done. This leaves room for refuse dumps along the roads and close to residential areas. It’s no surprise that many infectious diseases are very common.

Poor economic conditions have encouraged the emergence of slums and shanties. This poorly built houses are crowded and mostly lacking basic facilities like pipe-borne water and toilets. This encourages open defecation which itself promotes spread of infectious diseases.

These overcrowded areas are time bombs in the event of an outbreak of a killer infectious disease.

Water Supply

Pipe-borne water remains a luxury in most parts of Nigeria.

In many rural areas a single water source such as a river is used for drinking and almost every other purpose risking the health of the users.

Open defecation in such areas means that a lot of microbes from faeces of people gets washed into the water bodies.

Disposal of industrial waste is hardly regulated and this leaves room for pollution of many water bodies. Infact some of these toxic waste can accumulate in the bodies of aquatic animals like fishes that end up being consumed by the public.

Industrial Pollutants

In the Niger Delta where oil exploration has been going on for decades oil spills have had quite some negative impact on the environment. From polluting the water to harming the aquatic life and this is bound to affect the inhabitants of such areas.

Gas glaring releases of a lot of hydrocarbons and other chemicals into the air which is not suitable to be breathed in. Health policies must begin to factor in such activities in order to bring them under control.

For crying out loud, we deserve to breath in fresh air!!

Many countries around the world are careful about carbon emissions and are seeking cleaner ways of generating energy and such measures need to be set in motion here as well.

What is the emission level generated from cars that are brought into the country, generator sets, motorbikes industrial machinery?

Is it in line the minimum global standards? Who is checking? All these are very important because they affect our health in no small measure.

Our environment is our living space and together we need to protect it from pollution.

Political commitment again

Government must recognise the importance of protecting the environment. They need to use the powers of state to regulate and hold individuals and businesses accountable while doing their bit as well.

The ministry of environment should be working in tandem with the ministry of health. Their functions are more related than we think

Olusanya Oluwatomi
@dhealthactivist on twitter