Rose Ejembi, Makurdi
Nigeria has the highest number of cancer related deaths in Africa, with about 10,000 cancer deaths and 250,000 new cases each year, according to Dr. Emmanuel Tembe, a university don.
Tembe, who disclosed this in a lecture titled “Beating the Plastic Pollution” to mark this year’s World Environment Day at the Federal University of Agriculture Makurdi (FUAM), said that cancer related deaths are increasing in urban areas and cities, with pollution and chemical exposure being major risk factors.
He explained further that plastics used in wrapping hot foods, water and other substances are liable to cause cancer, stressing that when hot, plastics emit carcinogenic substances which cause cancer in humans.
While stating that Nigeria suffers the world’s greatest malaria disease burden, with approximately 51 million cases and 207,000 deaths annually, Tembe added that plastic refuse serve as breeding ground for disease vectors like mosquitoes and flies.
“Mosquitoes are the spreaders of malaria. Flies are related to diarrhea diseases in under-5 children,” Tembe said, quoting UNICEF 2016 survey which found that diarrhea causes approximately 150,000 deaths among under-5 children annually.
Speaking on the effect of plastics on environmental sanitation, the academic said single use of plastics produce high turnover of wastes, which indiscriminately litter streets, homes and homesteads.
Earlier in an opening address, Vice Chancellor of the institution, Prof. Richard Kimbir, said the programme was organized to join forces with the United Nations and other concerned individuals in fighting the scourge of plastic pollution and its devastating effects on humanity.
Deputy Vice Chancellor, (Administration) Prof. Paul Annune, representing Kimbir, stated that the WED lecture was designed to sensitise members of the university community and the general public on internationally recognized best practices of waste management based on the principle of Waste Avoidance.
In his welcome address, Dean of College of Forestry and Fisheries Prof. Norbert Tee, who said that plastic makes up 10 percent of the total waste disposed, noted that the lecture was a call for every individual to preserve the environment for the general good of all.