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Only 4% Nigerians practice handwashing at critical times – FG



The Federal Government on Thursday pledged to improve the culture of handwashing, as only four per cent of Nigerians practice it at critical times.

The Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, Prof. Joseph Utsev, said this at a news conference to commemorate the 2023 Global Handwashing Day with the theme, ‘Clean Hands are within our Reach’ in Abuja.

Utsev said imbibing the culture of handwashing at critical times would curtail the spread of preventable diseases, promote human health and strengthen communities.

According to him, handwashing is a ‘first-line of defence’ in preventing outbreaks and reducing the toll of pandemics, as can be attested from the last experience with the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic.

Quoting the 2021 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) Report, Utsev said national access to basic hygiene services stood at an abysmal 17 per cent.

The minister, represented by Mr John Ochigbo, Director, River Basin Operations and Inspectorate, noted that there is 99 per cent knowledge of handwashing practices, while only 8 per cent practiced it.

“It may also interest you to know that a high knowledge of handwashing practices estimated at 99 per cent was reported, in practice, only 8 per cent of the population can demonstrate proper handwashing with water and soap under running water.

“In addition, only 4 per cent are likely to practice proper handwashing with water and soap in critical times such as after defecation, touching animals or sick persons, playing and before cooking, eating, handling food, or feeding others.

“These low indices indicate the need to review our strategies in order to strengthen our interventions for greater effectiveness and for sustainable results”.

According to him, in oder to reverse these trends, the ministry has commenced the implementation of the Hand Hygiene for All Roadmap, which gives a strategic direction to achieve hand hygiene for all.

“This will help the country chart a course towards ensuring available and affordable products and services that will help entrench a culture of handwashing with soap for all, especially for the less privileged population.

While appreciating the efforts of the development partners and other stakeholders, the minister called for renewed commitment, to build good hygiene culture for Nigerians.

Earlier, Mrs Elizabeth Ugoh, Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation in the ministry, said the day was an opportunity to promote and encourage handwashing as a cost-effective way to prevent diseases and preventable deaths.

She said it was the desire of the ministry to see a community of healthy people who would contribute to economic development, saying effective handwashing at critical times would make it possible.

“Handwashing with soap and water is an easy, cost-effective, and affordable way to prevent disease and save lives.

“When handwashing with soap is practised after using the toilet or before eating, it can dramatically reduce the risk of diarrhea and pneumonia, which can cause serious illness and death.

“When people are healthy, they will be productive and contribute to the economy of the country, that’s why we are advocating making this a culture”.

It was reported that the day, celebrated annually on October 15, is aimed at increasing awareness and understanding the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way for disease prevention.

Highlights of the day were sensitisation rally, distribution of handbills to create awareness about the importance of handwashing and why it should be prioritised.

Tosin Kolade

NEWSVERGE, published by The Verge Communications is an online community of international news portal and social advocates dedicated to bringing you commentaries, features, news reports from a Nigerian-African perspective. A unique organization, founded in the spirit of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, comprising of ordinary people with an overriding commitment to seeking the truth and publishing it without fear or favour. The Verge Communications is fully registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as a corporate organization.



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