WaterAid urges sustained hand washing amid global pandemic
WaterAid Nigeria has restated that hand washing with soap and water can reduce the risk of people contracting Coronavirus, now recognised as a public health emergency of global concern.
But the organisation raised concern that figures from the WHO/UNICEF 2019 Joint Monitoring Programme (JMP) revealed that 58 per cent of homes in Nigeria lack hand washing facilities, while national statistics put those without access to hand washing facilities at about 150 million.
Furthermore, only five per cent of health facilities in the country have combined basic water, sanitation and hygiene services, with just 13 per cent of schools in the country having basic water and sanitation services.
The group cautioned that against this sad reality, large segments of the population, healthcare workers, babies, children, public workers and others risk of contracting diseases like coronavirus.
Recognised as the single most cost-effective do-it-yourself vaccine, WaterAid stressed that hand washing with soap and water could reduce disease spread by nearly half as the WHO 2019 public advisory recommended regular and thorough washing of hands to protect oneself and others.
Chief Executive, WaterAid UK, Tim Wainwright, lamented that about two in five people in Sub-Saharan African have nowhere to wash their hands with soap and water in their homes.
He added that it has been revealed that regular hand washing with soap could reduce cases of all respiratory diseases by 20 per cent and diarrhea by 30 per cent and could help healthcare centres to be better placed to support response to an outbreak.
“Hand washing is one of the simplest and most effective disease prevention methods available. If everyone, everywhere had a place to wash their hands with soap and water as often as needed, it would go a long way to contain and prevent the spread of many diseases.”
Also, Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria, Evelyn Mere, pointed out that the crucial role hand washing with soap play in preventing the spread of diseases and protecting oneself could not be over emphasized, saying, “Hands carry germs and we often use them to touch unclean surfaces, food, mouth, eyes, nose and body.”