World Veterinary Day: Environmental Protection for Improving Animal and Human Health

Humans are at the centre of issues relating to the environment, human life cannot exist or be understood in isolation from the other forms of life, due to symbiotic relations among all creatures.

In the face of the attendant degradation of the environment due to human activities such as burning of fossil fuel, deforestation, water pollution and the alteration of environmental stability, leading to visible climate change, the United Nations through the brunt land Commission in 1987, advocated more sustainable use of the environment through the adoption of practices that could lead to environmental sustainability.

Climate change which resulted mostly from indiscriminate human activities have led to marked climate variability, particularly, changes in extreme weather events such as rising temperatures, rising sea levels and melting of snow and accumulation of greenhouse gases especially, carbon dioxide.

Every 28th of April is set aside as World Veterinary Day. The global theme of this year’s World Veterinary Day celebration is “environmental protection for improving animal and human health”.

This theme is designed to draw the attention of everyone to the urgent need to protect the environment in the interest of ever increasing human population and animals, without which human existence would be confronted with imminent danger.

Human diseases associated with environmental degradation and climate change include Alzheimer’s disease, Asthma, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, Diabetes, Cardiovascular diseases, Mental illness and Obesity.

Deforestation has also led to loss of habitat to wildlife, leading to extinction of many animal and plant species. This is why all hands must be on the deck to reverse this ugly trend through intentional environmental protection.

In Nigeria, the goal of environmental protection should be set to achieve the ‘Rio Declaration’ of 1992 which emphasized the following principles, human beings are at the centre of concern for sustainable development.

There are several ways to protect the environment for the sake of promotion of human and animal health, these include adoption of sustainable agricultural practices such as lesser use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers which had led to reduction of pollution and health hazards.

The use of microorganisms that benefit the soil and plant health could also ensure improved agricultural productivity in a sustainable manner. Such organisms include plant growth promoting microorganism such as bacteria and fungi which could also be used in ecological restoration projects such as reclamation of degraded soil to improve soil quality and health.

The management of agro-industrial wastes arising from food processing, energy crops, biofuel production wastes and crop residues are also crucial to environmental protection, which if utilized efficiently would lead to improved agricultural productivity.

The use of bio-pesticides could be encouraged as a replacement of chemical pesticides which could lead to residue accumulation in food chain with attendant associated health hazards in humans and animals.

Furthermore, the importance of public advocacy for people to imbibe the culture of tree planting and replacement of felled trees cannot be over emphasized.

This is because trees are the ‘lungs’ of the environment. They are involved in carbon reduction, food production, habitat for animals and birds, prevention of storm, assist in water cycle and prevention of soil erosion among others.

If the environment is not adequately protected, it could lead to the emergence of new diseases and change in severity of existing health problems in humans and animals.

In conclusion, it is pertinent to state that relevant government agencies charged with the responsibility to prevent over exploitation of the environment, promotion of environmental sustainability and biodiversity conservation, should rise to the occasion by enforcing necessary laws and regulations that can make the environment to continue to support human and animal health and well-being.

 Ibikunle Faramade

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