The public health of a society or community is very important to the general welfare of everyone in that society or community. A good example that depicts the importance was the recent Ebola outbreak in certain African countries, if you followed the news and updates from neighboring countries who were worst hit by the virus, you must have observed their respective governments instituting policies and measures to control the breakout such as issuing directives that certain areas be quarantined and placing curfews to prevent movement and spread of the virus. Such instances show how important governments work hard to ensure the health of its citizenry is protected and you will always find an abundance of laws which aim to punish and prevent exposing the public to health hazards, for instance the Nigerian Criminal Code Act.
Section 243 of the Act provides that –
- Any person who sells, as food or drink, or has in his possession with intent to sell it as food or drink, any article which has been rendered or has become noxious, or is in a state unfit for food and drink, knowing or having reason to believe that the same is noxious as food or drink, or is in a state unfit for food or drink is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is liable to imprisonment for one year. Examples of these are merchants who sell expired drugs and food items.
- Any person who adulterates any article of food or drink, so as to make such article noxious as food or drink, intending to sell such articles as food or drink is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is liable to imprisonment for one year.
- Also, anyone who with intention to sell or provide for public consumption any carcass of any animal which has died of any disease is guilty of a misdemeanor and is liable to imprisonment for one year (Section 244).
- Furthermore, anyone who corrupts or fouls water from any spring, stream or river which renders it less fit for the purpose for which it is ordinarily used is guilty of a misdemeanor, and is liable to imprisonment for six months (Section 245).
- It is also a misdemeanor to bury a corpse in a house without the consent of the President or Governor and such person is liable to imprisonment for 6 months.
It should be noted that anyone who vitiates the atmosphere so as to make it noxious to the health of persons in general or spreads any infectious disease dangerous to life is guilty of a misdemeanor and liable to 6 months in prison.