Mr Suleiman Adamu, the Minister of Water Resources has urged Nigerians to imbibe the culture of using soap to wash their hands many times to prevent diseases and improve the health of the nation.
Adamu made the call at a news conference to commemorate the 2019 Global Hand Washing Day with the theme: ”Clean Hands for All” on Thursday in Abuja.
He said that the inequity in hand washing facilities and effective hand washing promotion programme would put individuals at higher risk for diseases that would impact their health, education and the economy of the nation.
“Approximately 15 per cent of the world population has a disability and accessing wash facilities is often one of the most significant challenges of their lives.
“This year’s theme reminds us that we must be inclusive when addressing hand washing disparity as it occurs across wealthy people, geographical locations and vulnerable groups.
“Hand washing with soap is critical to disease prevention and it not only helps to improve people’s health, but also removes barriers to economic opportunity, allows children to learn, grow and help strengthen communities,” he said.
He said that the importance of hand washing was to help ensured the sustenance of effort to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) such as river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, soil transmitted helminthes and schistosomiasis.
According to him, in Nigeria records 102,000 children under the age of five who die yearly due to diseases caused by poor sanitation and unhygienic practices.
“About 33 per cent of children under five are stunted due to such unhygienic practices.’’
Adamu said that cultivating good hand washing habit would help keep students healthy ready to learn and help fight under nutrition “and it is an individual process’’.
The minister said the availability of hand washing stations would stop the spread of diseases and adapting the facilities for people with disabilities would ensure accessibility.
He however said that behaviour change was required for people to wash their hands consistently at specific times, adding that hand washing was a choice that individuals must make multiple times a day.
He said that the Federal Government would be rolling out national programme to end open defecation in the country by the target year of 2025 through “Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’’ campaign.
Mr Awe Emmanuel, the Director, Water Quality and Sanitation said the objective was to create awareness of hand washing at critical times and to encourage children as the agent of change.
According to him, it is better and cheaper to wash hand to prevent sickness and diseases than to live in ignorance as hand washing is for all.
He said that the ministry hoped to engage private sector to promote the culture of hand washing in order to reach many Nigerians with the message of hygiene.
The Nigeria News Agency reports that there will be series of programmes to mark this year’s Hand Washing Day which begin on the Oct. 14. (NAN)
Edited by Grace Yussuf