If man hurts the environment, the environment will haunt man in return’
Addressing sustainable health through a sustainable environment requires respecting and improving environmental constituents of physical, biological, and social conditions. Last week, we considered some of the environmental conditions that harm human health in Africa, below are others:
Industrial Discharge and Poor Waste Disposal
Waste discharges not properly disposed are a high cause of diseases and Africa falls more victim of this because of the high rural population of the region, hygienic ways of disposing wastes not well circulated in most of the countries. People still defecate in open places where flies carry the feaces and deposit them on food substances which in turn sky-rocket the spread of diseases in this region. Sadly, the growing urban areas are also not totally immune from the effects of wastes. In most cases, because of weak governmental structures, industries are able to indecently dispose-off their discharges, giving room for the breed and spread of diseases, most especially communicable diseases.
Vector Population (animals, parasites)
Growing urbanization in Africa has led to the displacement of vector population from their natural habitats into the human environment. Due to man’s environmental activities, several animals have been displaced as deforestation has sent out most of them. Some of these vectors carry viruses that have become harmful to the human population which they now live with. From the 2000s, there have been an increase in vector related diseases all over the world. The climax was in 2014 when the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa became the most devastating public health outbreak. Ravaging diseases such as Ebola, Lassa, and Malaria have all been traced to the animals carrying these viruses: Wild Animals, Rats, and Mosquitoes respectively and because of this, Africa has gathered the highest rate of deaths from vector-borne diseases.
The Way Forward
If the world and especially vulnerable Africa is going to achieve sustainable health, it will be the responsibility of man to respect the environment he lives in. If man hurts the environment, the environment will haunt man in return. Everybody has a part to play; it is the role of individuals to protect the environment, embrace sanitation, and embrace responsible consumption and production. Industries should in like manner properly dispose their discharges and respect the environment in their emissions.
All African nations ultimately need to find means of generating affordable and sufficient energy to serve its population and not just generating energy, but clean energy in order to fight in-door pollution. With the good supply of sun in Africa, the continent can sufficiently generate clean energy by tapping into solar power, wind and other renewable energies, while facing out all unhealthy sources of energy. With sufficient clean energy, African nations can minimize air pollution from coal, local stoves, and even generators.
Furthermore, African governments need to mandate people and industries to embrace protective measures on the environment. Car and industrial emissions should be well regulated; mandating healthy standards on all appliances, buildings and vehicles. Moreover, deforestation should be minimized and providing basic amenities such as clean water should be priority.
Although it is going to be daunting for the world and more so Africa, to totally eradicate environmental pollutions yet, the continent can work at mitigating them by considering and putting in place, well targeted strategies to making the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) work. Governments should ensure that environmental issues are considered top priorities because they go a long way to affect other issues as health and well-being. If all the environmental SDGs are well addressed and achieved, other SDGs can be achieved too.
Ultimately, Africa’s health watchword should be ‘Improve environmental conditions, improve health’.