The Ogun State Ministry of Health on Monday said over one million residents of the state engage in open defecation.
The ministry reports that the practice remains a major cause of Hepatitis, especially among children.
This was made known at a one-day Health Seminar organised by the National Association of Community Health Practitioners of Nigeria (NACHPN) in Abeokuta.
Delivering a lecture at the ceremony, Olusola Afuape of the Department of Public Health,Ogun State Ministry of Health, explained that the figure represented 28.8 percent of a total population of 3,751,140.
He lamented that the figure kept increasing by the day day, saying the development had a serious public health implications.
“Approximately, 1,080,328 residents of Ogun State practice open defecation,especially in the rural areas,” he said. “This figure represent 28.8 percent of 3,751,140 the population.”
Mr. Afuape, a field officer and a member of the state onchocerciasis control team in the Ministry of Health, noted that open defecation contributes to the spread of the deadly Hepatitis disease, and that it accounts for the highest number of deaths of children under the ages of five.
He suggested that open defecation could be eliminated if there was the political will, domestication and enforcement of sanitation laws, awareness campaigns on its health implications.
Mr. Afuape recommended more enlightenment programmes on environmental behavioural change; better sanitation solution that offers alternatives to open defecation; construction of more toilets in public places such as markets, motor parks, schools and more attention paid to water supply.
Earlier in his welcome speech, the State Chairman of the Community Health Practitioners, Donnish Oriola, emphasised the need to update the knowledge of members and improve methods.
He said this would require capacity building, training and retraining so as to move with the trend in public health.
“As community health practitioners, it is our responsibility to contribute our quota in reducing childhood killer diseases to the barest minimum in the state, through health education on good and adequate nutrition to mothers and care givers,” Mr. Oriola said.