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World Health Day: What CAPPA reminded Nigerian govt

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‘Tobacco is the only legal product that kills half of its consumers when it is consumed exactly the way the manufacturer intended for it to be consumed’

By Valentine Amanze

A civil socaity and environmental rights group, Corporate Accountability and Public Participation Africa (CAPPA), has reminded the federal government of Nigeria that it is yet to meet the basic needs of its citizens as stipulated by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

CAPPA said that in Nigeria the right to health of millions was increasingly coming under threat.

CAPPA Executive Director, Mr. Akinbode Oluwafemi, who spoke during this year’s World Health Day via webinar, advised the government to improve the wellbeing of its citizens.

He said that Nigerians deserve access to quality health services, education, and information, as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination.

Akinbode Oluwafemi | File Image

 His words: “We think that it is instructive for us as the biggest environmental resource to use this occasion to discuss how our programming in totality is connected to the well-being of the human person. Whether it is Climate Campaign, Tobacco Control Campaign, Water Campaign, Food, Gender and others. A win for those programmes also means a win for health.”

Also read: How salt consumption is killing Nigerians, by CAPPA

Also a lawyer and public health advocate, Michael Olaniyan, corroborated Oluwafemi’s views.

 Olaniyan, who made a presentation on the hazards of tobacco consumption, called on the government to enforce the tobacco law without delay.

Olaniyan said, “When we talk of tobacco control, it’s about the health of everybody. Somebody be tempted to say that ‘I don’t consume tobacco, so I’m free from the dangers of tobacco.’ That’s very untrue. Everyone is affected by tobacco one way or another.

“Tobacco is the only legal product that kills half of its consumers when it is consumed exactly the way the manufacturer intended for it to be consumed.”

He urged the government to restrict tobacco use in public areas, introduce higher taxes and other measures towards keeping a check on the product.

Besides, the Policy and Research Lead, CAPPA, Zikora Ibeh, who spoke on the nexus between gender and public health, called for health equity, which concerns fair and just opportunities for all gender devoid of discrimination.

Her words: “Health equity recognizes that certain groups may face systemic barriers and injustices that impact their health and well-being and seeks to address these disparities to promote fairness and justice in healthcare delivery and outcomes.

“Health equity aims to eliminate avoidable and unfair differences in health status and access to healthcare services among different population groups.

“In Nigeria, several factors affect health equity like socioeconomic status, geographical location, ethnic and cultural diversity, gender.”

She also advised the government to float policies that ensure that  everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain the highest levels of health regardless of social or economic status, ethnicity, race, gender, or other factors.

In her presentation, Sefa Ikpa, the programme officer (Water) at CAPPA, said that without access to clean water for drinking, cooking, and personal hygiene, individuals are at increased risk of contracting waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, and diarrhea.

She said, “Contaminated water sources can harbour harmful pathogens and bacteria that cause these diseases, leading to widespread illness and even death, particularly among vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.”

While rejecting water privatization and commodification, she advocated for public-public partnerships as the most effective solution to water access challenges in Nigeria and across Africa.

She also called on the government to increase budgetary allocation to the water sector for the  development and maintenance of water infrastructure to ensure universal access to clean and safe water sources.

Contributing, a Climate Change expert, Ogunlade Olamide Martins, established the linkage between climate change and public health.

He said that Climate change was causing existential crises as the physical environment including natural, social, and economic conditions and the functioning of health systems are now susceptible to its impact.

He pointed out that food unavailability, rising sea level in most areas, drying up danger at Lake Chad, inseçurity were part of the challenges of climate change.

Also, Joy Amafah, the in-country lead on Food and Nutrition for Global Health Advocacy Incubator, lamented that “Our food environment has been swamped with ultra processed food which endangers public health.”

 She said, “More troubling is the behavioral change towards consuming ultra-processed food which is now seen as a thing of class.”

She urged the government to step up action in regulating the sector.

Amafah defended the need to reinforce Nigerians right to healthy food, while making a global call for review of food policies.

The World Health Day is celebrated annually every April 7. This year’s World Health Day team is “My health, my right.”

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