Academic journal article Journal of Economics & Management

Measuring the Effect of Environmental Hygiene on Child Health Outcomes in Cameroon

Academic journal article Journal of Economics & Management

Measuring the Effect of Environmental Hygiene on Child Health Outcomes in Cameroon

Article excerpt

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1.Introduction

Issues relating environmental hygiene to growth and development in children are at the top of policy making in many countries. The type of toilet facility use by a household (flush to piped sewer system, flush to septic tank, flush to pit latrine, ventilated improved pit latrine, pit latrine with slab, pit latrine without slab/open pit, no facility/bush/field, bucket toilet and hanging toilet/latrine) constitute a major determinant of environmental hazard especially in rural Cameroon. The principal objective of this study is to explore the effect of environmental hygiene on child health endowments; this is very consistent with the Millennium Development Goal number seven. This objective stipulates, to ensure environmental sustainability by reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015 (United Nations, 2007), the current sustainable development goals equally lay emphasis on issues related to hygiene. However, this objective is still far to be obtained in Cameroon especially in the area of sanitation and toilet facility.

In 2013, the World Health Organization (WHO) after observing the consequences of the lack of toilet on human health, for instance about 35% of the world or 2.5 billion people, are estimated to not having access to toilets facility. Following the United Nations, 14% or 1 billion people regularly defecate in the open air; this action is noted to produce about 50 communicable diseases, 1 million bacteria, 10 million viruses, 1,000 parasite cysts, and 100 worm eggs (WHO/CDC, 2003), especially diarrhea is something that happens due to lack of toilet access. According to the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC), about 2,200 children die every day from diarrhea more than AIDS, malaria, and measles combined whereas one USA dollar invested in diarrhea prevention yields an average return of $25.50 and about 88% of diarrhea associated deaths are attributable to unsafe water, inadequate sanitation, and insufficient hygiene (WHO/CDC, 2003).

In Cameroon, urban residence without toilets and those living besides lakes, standing and flowing waters always prefer to defecate in water or in the bush rather than an appropriate toilet systems. Further, those that manage to build a toilet because of limited land, ends up digging wells so closed to their toilets these issues have great consequences on the water, environment and health of the people in general. Most of the water borne diseases is transmitted through this media. Rural residence is worst in polluting the environment; most households don't have toilets so they are either defecating in the bush or in the water, others have but open toilets; the wind blows through the feces causing pollution. Children with fragile nature inhale the polluted air and become sick. The pol- luted air scattered bacteria, viruses, and germs from infected persons to the land surface as well as the water. Children who come in contact with the bacteria are contaminated with diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, etc.

The ministry of public health in Cameroon has attempted on several occasions to carry out mass campaign on the dangers of not having a toilet or environmental pollution, but most of the effort is limited in urban centers especially in the two metropolitan centers of Yaoundé and Douala and some few semi-urban centers. The bulk of the population in other parts of the country is still to be informed while those informed are still to take action. Considering the situation of toilets in Cameroon as illustrated in Table 1, about 27.57 percent households shared toilet facilities, 6.51 percent have flush toilets and 81.54 percent have latrines, while 7.88 percent have no toilets (DHS, 2011).

In Table 1, we observed that 10.75 percent of households disposed their youngest child's stools when not using toilet, 61.73 percent rinsed and throw in toilet/latrines, 3. …

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