Nigerian government to promote hand washing policies, programmes

Hikmat Bamigboye, Abuja

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Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu has pledged to promote effective hand washing through policies, programmes and advocacy at all levels toward making it a national culture that will be imbibed by all in the country.

The Minister of gave the pledged in Abuja during the 2019 Global Hand Washing Day Commemoration with the theme, “Clean Hands for All.’’

The programe was organised by the Ministry of Water Resources in collaboration with the National Task Group on Sanitation, NTGS.

He said:“As we celebrate this year’s Global Hand Washing Day and in the spirit of leaving no one behind in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal.

“We must ensure that opportunities for hand-washing at critical times are provided at households, schools, health facilities work and other public places,’’ he added.

“These facilities should also be adapted for the use of people with disabilities to ensure their accessibility.

“We should strive to eliminate existing disparities and inequalities in access as we promote effective hand washing through policy, programmes and advocacy at all levels toward making it a national culture imbibed all.”

The minister said that the essence of the activity of engaging with children was in recognition of the role that children could play as agents of change in cultivating the good hygiene practice of washing hands with soap at critical times.

He also said that children were more vulnerable to sanitation and hygiene-related diseases such as diarrhea and pneumonia which are the two leading causes of death of children below age five.

Mr Adamu, however, said that the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey indicated that about 43.6 per cent of children under the age of five were either moderately or severely affected by impaired growth.

He noted that hand washing with soap reduces the incidence of diarrhea diseases and the outbreak of many communicable diseases such as Ebola and Lassa fever.

“Adopting the behaviour of hand washing with soap is adjudged as one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diseases, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost one-half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by nearly one-quarter,” he said.

Adamu said that the theme for the 2019 celebration: “Clean Hands for All” should remind all of the need to be inclusive in hand washing programme to ensure that no one was left behind in the SDGs agenda.

The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, Ambassador for Nigeria, Mrs Ebele Okeke said hand washing was vital for the health of all, especially children.

She said: “This year’s hand washing day emphasises the need to look toward those often left behind and actively work to ensure that hand washing becomes a sustainable habit for all.

“Globally, only 60 per cent of the world has access to basic hand washing facilities, while in Nigeria 21 per cent has access to basic washing facilities,’’ she added….

“It is important to note that hand washing is a greater challenge among the vulnerable groups as they usually do not have access to clean water,” she said.