As the world celebrates the World Toilet Day, some health experts on Tuesday urged people to inculcate good toilet and sanitation habits to reduce communicable diseases.
They told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that most communicable diseases could be prevented if people could cultivate good toilet and sanitation habits.
Dr Femi Ajayi, a Public Health Consultant in Lagos, said that open defecation had become a common, but worrisome practise in Nigeria.
“On a daily basis, one sees people defecating directly into the lagoon, under the bridges, on the walk ways and as a matter of fact, any available space.
“This practice not only pollutes the soil and water resources, it pollutes the environment and the air we breathe in.
“Asides from the deliberate open defecation, most homes have poor and inadequate sewage systems.
“Often times, faecal water and matters seep out of this sewage. These are hazardous to human health.’’
Another public health officer, Dr Taiwo Oguntoyin, said that poor toilet and sanitation habits affected the physical, mental, social and economic well-being of individuals.
“It can lead to diseases such as hepatitis, cholera, dysentery, fever, typhoid fever, urinary tract infections, skin infections and a host of other diseases.
“It can also cause soil-transmitted worm infections. These are transmitted by eggs present in human faeces which in turn contaminate soil in areas where sanitation is poor.
“The main species that infect people are the roundworm, the whip worm and the hookworms.
“All these impair the nutritional status of those infected, causing intestinal bleeding, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, dysentery, reducing absorption of micro nutrients and poor intelligence quotient.”
Oguntoyinbo said that in extreme cases, these complications could result to death if not professionally handled.
Also, a sanitary health consultant, Miss Modesta Ogu, said that there should be massive awareness on the health implications of poor toilet habits.
She said that efforts should be made to achieve good toilet habits.
“We have to cultivate good sanitation habits even within our environments. This re-orientation has to begin within ourselves as individual beings.
“Governments at all levels and individuals have to ensure the availability of clean toilets in homes and public places these public places include: filling stations, markets, churches, offices, stadium, tourist centres, motor parks and strategic places along the high ways”.
“People should know where to defecate; the need to properly flush the toilets or dispose of faecal waste, and as well maintain good personal hygiene like hand washing with soap.’’
In his comment, Dr Femi Balogun, the Medical Director, Sheffi Private Hospital, Egbeda, Lagos, urged Lagos residents to provide standard toilet facilities in their respective homes for healthy living.
He said that regular sensitisation and awareness campaigns by health personnel to educate people on good hygienic habits should be carried out.
Balogun also called for the reintroduction of sanitary inspectors who should be mandated to ensure that every house has standard toilet facility.
The UN General Assembly had in 2001 designated every Nov.19 as the World Toilet Day and the theme for 2013 World Toilet Day is: “The Rural Meet the Urban Sanitation”. (NAN)