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Public abattoirs require radical makeover

However, public health appears to be the least consideration in most of the nation’s abattoirs. Indeed, their environment constitutes a public health hazard. The Lagos State Abattoir Complex, considered to be the largest in the country, is an eyesore. The condition of the ever-busy facility located in Oko- Oba, Agege, area, is unspeakably filthy. The complex was opened with much fanfare, only to be abandoned to rot due to lack of maintenance.   
Some 4000 cattle camels are slaughtered and processed for consumption daily in very unhygienic environment. Even those who retail meat products display them on dirty tops with flies converging on them. The filth was such that the Lagos State Environmental Agency threatened to shut the abattoir recently. Residents in environment content with the pollution and overbearing stench which come from the poorly maintained facility. The issue of waste management in the country, especially Lagos with a population of over 18 million people, has remained problematic because unwholesome situations like those found around abattoirs are left to ferment. To worsen the matter, when the piles of waste generated in these places are washed into waterways, drainages are blocked, and this further compounds the problem of flooding, which the nation is presently battling with.  Apart from the issue of environmental pollution, of concern also is the condition of health of the animals that are slaughtered in abattoirs.
 Last year, the Nigerian Veterinary Medical Association (NVMA), warned of imminent outbreak of diseases in the country if nothing was done to sanitise the operations at abattoirs and slaughter slabs nationwide. In addition, while x-raying veterinary services in Nigeria recently, experts declared the meat from many abattoirs as unfit for human consumption. Fasciolosis, a deadly disease of livestock that can cause liver-related problems in human, is one of the commonest conditions found to come from such unhygienic conditions. Prevalence of fasciolosis among slaughtered cattle in Ondo State is well documented. The high prevalence of this disease is dangerous to both human and animal health. The veterinary departments of ministries of agriculture and other relevant government agencies whose functions  are to ascertain that animals slaughtered for public consumption are in good health should wake up to their responsibilities. Issues bordering on public health are too important to be toyed with.      
Government cannot continue to neglect facilities as crucial of crucial public health importance as abattoirs because of the implication of such actions. The relevant authorities at all levels of government should draw up a programme to sanitise the operation of abattoirs. There is need to revamp all abattoirs nationwide, including the Oko-Oba facility in Lagos. These facilities should be upgraded to meet modern standards while workers should be properly educated and equipped on how to maintain and keep them clean. Inspectors from relevant establishments should monitor the activities at abattoirs daily to ensure the proper things are done with regard to the quality of meat processed for consumption as well as the general sanitation of such places. It would be a good idea if some industries are located near abattoirs to make use of the by-products generated in these facilities, instead of the current practice of allowing them to rotten and pollute the environment. One possibility could be fertilizer plants, which could have the effect of addressing, at least partly, the fertilizer shortage in the country on a sustainable basis.

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