Why health, population deserve special attention

The cholera outbreak and incessant malaria have come under examination by health professionals in a densely-populated country like Nigeria. This is because many people continue to be negatively affected as a result of ignorance, poor hygiene, population explosion, and failure of the government to crucial steps to address the problems. A call has gone to governments at all levels to, as a matter of urgency, enforce public health policies in order to stop the further spread of cholera in Nigeria. The appeal was made by radio discussants, who maintained that cholera remains a highly contagious disease caused by poor hygiene and why the government should urgently curb the further spread of the disease.

A Principal Medical Officer I at FUNAAB Health Services, Dr. Oluseyi Anjorin, maintained that the government should start enforcing public health policies to achieve a disease-free society. He said public health personnel should continually sensitise the public and enforce all policies consistently to have a society free of cholera. “You cannot exhaust public education, it has to be continual”, he added. Dr. Anjorin urged Nigerians to always drink potable water and keep their environment clean at all times. Meanwhile, a Principal Medical Officer II also at FUNAAB Health Services, Dr. Oludayo Oduwole, said the government should continually educate the people in the rural communities on the dangers of taking untreated water, noting that cholera is a life-threatening disease, which can be prevented by taking proper personal hygiene.

According to him, “We all have a role to play as a government and individuals to drastically reduce cholera in society to the barest minimum”. The government and relevant stakeholders in the country should rally around and re-orientate the people on why they must rid the country of malaria. They explained that the government should be factual and ensure proper implementation of policies that are aimed at eradicating malaria. Dr. Oluseyi Anjorin of FUNAAB Health Services also said government policies on malaria were sound, but lacked adequate implementation. He equally blamed the nonchalant attitude by some members of the public for fighting the scourge. Dr. Anjorin advocated for collaborative efforts by stakeholders in the health sector, noting that “If the environmental situation is getting worse or still remains the same, we cannot get malaria to zero marks”.

Corroborating him, Pharm. Sulaiman Dosunmu, also of the FUNAAB Health Services, said malaria is endemic mainly within the poor masses. He stressed that there is a need for everyone to observe personal hygiene and take care of their immediate environment. He added that “There are a lot of things we are not doing right and we are not doing enough”. Pharm. Dosunmu emphasised that public health should not be discussed in the hospital alone, urging practitioners to visit their communities and orientate the people while advocating for the re-introduction of the environmental task force as a way of ensuring that people keep to their personal hygiene, especially in a densely-populated country like Nigeria. Similarly, this matter of population came up for further discussion as Dr. Olaniyi Olayiwola of the Department of Statistics, College of Physical Sciences (COLPHYS), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), Ogun State, tasked the government to maintain a balance between population and available resources to have a better society. According to him, the government should optimise the utilisation of available resources and keep a proper record of the same. “Population control is necessary, but not achievable in Nigeria due to certain factors, as the only way out is to manage and utilise our resources optimally. When we use it optimally, there will be a balance between our population size and the available resources. It is because people are not engaged and hence, population explosion,” he said. 

Dr. Olayiwola stressed that Nigerians are not doing things the way they are supposed to be done, but rather, doing things the way they want them done. He said cultural and technological issues were some of the problems the nation was facing when it comes to population explosion. He disclosed that that 90% of Nigerians only believe in having children and not considering their upbringing and welfare. The Don urged the government to start keeping proper records of things to have a better understanding of what is happening, adding that there are so many things that are underutilised in the country. “For a country to have a high income, it needs urbanisation, diversification of the economy, and manpower, but Nigeria is too porous and we are not doing things the way it should be done”, he added.

The takeaways from the crystallisation of thoughts are that cholera and malaria scourge can be tamed as long as the people take more seriously their personal hygiene, through constant enlightenment, by adequate implementation of available health policies, and re-introduction of environmental sanitation officials in restoring sanity into the system. However, these measures cannot in turn take roots until when the nation’s population matches the existing resources since health provisions cannot be effectively made without due consideration for population, which is the distinct group of individuals with common characteristics.

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