The environment and our health co-exist at all times, which underscores the reason for the continuous engagement and discussion about environmental issues around the globe in relation to our everyday health. According to Phoebe Thorpe (2016) “environmental health seems like an intersection of our environment and our health” (CDC, 2016). Consequently, having a good knowledge of the patterns of environmental and occupational hazards that can result to various health issues in many populations including industrialized settings and immediate environment help situates the concept of environmental health (CDC, 2016). These environmental or occupational hazards may be biological, chemical, radiological, physical or psychological in nature and of course, not usually environmentally friendly (CDC, 2016). So the everyday question that remains unanswered objectively with proper action is the demonstrable handling of environmental health issues in various localities, especially in Nigeria.
Similarly, since population health deals with health outcomes of a group of persons, including the distribution of those health outcomes within the group in their immediate environment, there is a need for continuous analysis of environmental health (UOR, 2018). It is therefore important to know more than ever before, that the assessments of population health status has continued to redefine public health ideology with key achievements in the field of public health relying on the insightful analysis of public health data, to determine who is at risk of disease in any location and group of persons (UOR, 2018).
In a recent release by WHO (2018) on public health, environmental and social determinants of health, “9 out of 10 persons are exposed to air pollution and breath in air with a high level of pollutants such as black carbon” (WHO, 2018). This further reiterates the emphasis on environmental health globally with WHO flagging the ‘Breathelife’ campaign and increasing collaboration with different countries on environmental health (WHO, 2018). Thus, considering the numerous environmental unfriendly circumstances that result in disease conditions, rapid and structured responses to the ever demanding health needs, the drive for development and promotion of health-friendly environmental practices should be increased. Addressing the exposures to environmental and occupational hazards increases the risk of disease, therefore nations need to know what can be done to prevent or mitigate the impact of disease (CDC, 2016).
The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2001 and adapted by many countries of the world including Nigeria is “to warrant environmental sustainability” with the specific set targets (The new public health, 2008). The set targets in this context are targets 9, 10 and 11 as indicated and discussed below; Target 9 focuses on the integration of the “principles of sustainable development into country policies and programs; reverse loss of environmental resources” with the aim of strengthening nations with the right policies to combat health challenges caused by environmental and occupational hazards (The new public health, 2008).
Similarly, according to UNDP (2008), target 10 focuses on the 50% reduction of the “proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water in all communities”, while target 11 deals with “the achievement of improvement in lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers by 2020” (The new public health, 2008). The MDGs call for international cooperation to prevent environmental degradation resulting in global warming has led to several commitments made by developed countries and some developing countries making up to 195 agreeing to adopt the Paris agreement to fight climate change at the Paris climate conference (COP21) in December 2015 (EU Climate Action, 2018). Therefore, in line with the target 10 stated above, this project will focus on the Cholera outbreak in Nigeria as earlier discussed in my unit 3 project for this module, since it also meets the required environmental health issue for this unit’s project.
It is no news, that many poor and marginalized populations across the globe are more likely to be exposed to contaminated water, air pollution, unsafe working circumstances, and other environmental and occupational hazards (UOR, 2018). It is also no news, that Africa still remains the largest black continent and shares from poor health care situation and is greatly affected by many health issues including Nigeria with an estimated population of 182 million people (NPC, 2017). Similarly, according to Collins I. (2018), “it is important to note that genetics can mediate the effect of environmental hazards and that genetic vulnerability is not the same across populations” (UOR, 2018).
Generally, economic interest is a key driver of environmental health issues that accumulates the cost of hazard to persons indirectly involved in producing them, otherwise referred to as victims (UOR, 2018). According to the World Health Organization (2018),”Africa confronts the world’s most dramatic public health crisis and the region can address the health challenges it faces, given sufficient international support” (WHO, 2018). Africa is known to be affected by many of the factors that promote poor environmental health and this results in many health issues including Cholera which is being discussed in this module (UOR, 2018).
As defined by World Health Organization (2018), “Cholera is an acute enteric infection caused by the ingestion of bacterium Vibrio cholerae present in faecally contaminated water or food” (WHO, 2018). This disease is principally associated with inaccessible safe and clean water, and lack of good sanitation in communities, particularly where there are infrastructural gaps which may include poor solid waste disposal management systems (WHO, 2018). The effect of Cholera disease is experienced more in areas that lack basic infrastructures are disrupted, inadequate or have been destroyed due to terrorism, communal crisis, war or natural disasters (WHO, 2018). Nigeria has continued to face complex emergencies over the last 7 years including communal crisis, herdsmen attacks, terrorist attacks on civilians and armed forces, inadequate infrastructure and related challenges, which all increases the number of potentially vulnerable communities to cholera outbreaks (WHO, 2018). Similarly, the now existence of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) or refugees in overcrowded settings seeking safety in places or camps lacking shelter, safe water and sanitation is quite challenging for all levels of government, thereby resulting to the use of make-shift infrastructures that increases the risk for Cholera outbreak.