Epidemiologist urges govts to set environmental standards for mining industries

Prof. Lawrence Ogbonnaya, the National President of the Epidemiological Association of Nigeria (EPISON) has urged governments to set environmental standard for mining industries in Nigeria.

Ogbonnaya gave the urge on Wednesday in Abakaliki while delivering a lecture at the 16th inaugural lecture of the Ebonyi State University Abakaliki.

Ogbonnaya who is also the Dean, Faculty of Clinical Medicine of the university said that such standards should form major policy thrusts of governments in the mining sector.

“Unregulated mining activities pose great danger to human health and generally degrade the environment.

“The activities of artisanal and industrial miners leave behind small and large craters which become large water bodies and are sometimes, close to residential areas.

“Miners are not compelled to effect remedial actions to reclaim the land and the water bodies thus habour dangerous reptiles such as crocodiles and become mosquito breeding sites.

He noted that studies suggested that communities hosting quarry-mining activities and abandoned craters that have become water bodies for instance, have high malaria burden.

“Miners should be compelled to close former mining sites and correcting hazards which include refilling quarry pits to return the land to its natural state.

“The national and state malaria elimination programmes should target at-risk-communities to scale-up malaria control interventions.

Ogbonnaya also called for the strengthening of immunisation modalities especially in immunising children under the age of five.

“Poor immunisation coverage leads to increased death of children under this category, especially from vaccine preventable diseases.

Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, Vice Chancellor of the university commended Ogbonnaya for his feats in clinical medicine, noting that the university was proud of him.

“You have added value to the university’s lecture series and we pledge to enhance it through contributions of outstanding scholars.

Highlights of the occasion include the induction of Ogbonnya into the university’s Distinguished Professors Forum by its Chairman, Prof. Omaria Omaka.

The theme of the lecture was: Contextualising decision support for policy makers in infectious diseases, epidemiology and control: the role of policy dialogue.

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