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157m Nigerians lack access to handwashing facilities, says WaterAid


• 2,000 pupils join campaign for good hygiene to mark Global Handwashing Day in Abuja

As the world commemorate the Global Hand-washing Day today, WaterAid Nigeria has disclosed that about 157 million Nigerians lack access to hand washing facilities, even as it said only 16 percent of Nigerian hospitals have the facility in their premises.

A statement signed by WaterAid Communication Officer, Oluseyi Abdulmalik, made available to journalists in yesterday pointed out that handwashing with soap is estimated to reduce diarrheal diseases by between 27 and 48 per cent, combined with the use of clean drinking water.

Stating that about 60,000 children under five in Nigeria still die each year because of diarrhea linked to dirty water, poor toilets and poor hygiene, the statement noted that handwashing reduce the loss of nutrients and stunting in children under five by 15 per cent.

Meanwhile, over 2,000 school children drawn from across four local government areas in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), at the weekend, joined the campaign against germs as they participated in a symbolic hand-washing exercise.The event, which was organised by Dettol as part of its school hygiene programme, was in commemoration of the Global Hand-washing Day observed every October 15.

The exercise, according to the organisers, was to guide the children on the proper ways of washing their hands so as to prevent transmission of germs and combat childhood mortality.The General Manager, RB West Africa, Mr. Dayanand Sriram, called on Nigerians to imbibe proper hand-washing habit as a day-to-day routine. He noted that such practice would reduce incidents of communicable diseases.

“We know children wash their hands once a day but they need to wash their hands a minimum of five times a day. When they do that with an anti-bacterial soap, it would prevent illnesses and this is something we need for a healthy future in Nigeria.”

According to him, Dettol school hygiene programme has been able to educate over seven million children and teachers on good hygiene practices.“We have one-to-one contact with children and teachers. Since we started, we have educated up to seven million children and teachers on good hygiene practice. So, it is a very humble effort from the company to create awareness on hand-washing,” Sriram stated.

The Minister of Health, Isaac Adewole, while commending the company, stressed that their activities and those of other partners in the health industry to promote good hygiene have helped in reducing the burden on the Federal Government.Represented by the National Coordinator, Food Safety and Quality Programme, Mr. Fubara Chuku, the minister added that government is making efforts to include the techniques of proper hand-washing in school curriculum to enable children learn it early in life.

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