The Federal Government has urged Nigerians to imbibe the habit of regular hand washing with soap, saying that it will reduce infections by 50 per cent and respiratory diseases by 25 per cent. Minister for State on Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, gave the advice in Abuja, at the commemoration of 2021 Global Hand washing Day with a theme: “Our Future is at hand-let’s Move Forward Together”.
She said that the theme was a clarion call for the global community to work together and leverage lessons learned from response to COVID-19. She added that such would address the perennial neglect of hand hygiene as a major means of preventing disease transmission. She said that many people tend to wash their hands with only water, which has proven ineffective in removing most germs. According to her, for many Nigerians, cleaning hands with soap and water is not really considered necessary.
She said that they believe soaps are mostly reserved for laundry and bathing. “Let me use this opportunity to inform Nigerians that cleaning hands with soap and water removes germs much more effectively and significantly reduces the risk of disease transmission. “Hands must be washed as much as practically possible and must be washed at critical moments. “After using the toilet, after coughing or sneezing, after cleaning a child who has gone to the toilet, before preparing food,” she said.
According to her, hands should also be washed before and after eating, and after playing with animals. “It is a well-known fact that a large number of children die every year due to lack of sanitation and hygiene enabled diseases. Globally, basic hand hygiene is often neglected, due to lack of access to handwashing facilities in key places. “Also, 40 per cent of world’s population or three billion people do not have hand washing facilities with water and soap at home. “More than 3.5 million children suffer from diarrhoea diseases and this is not a small figure.
“Children, who are less than 5-years old, are more prone to such diseases because of lack of knowledge about the importance of hand washing. “So, I am advising Nigerians to always wash their hands, for hand washing saves lives,’’ she said. Ikeazor said that sanitation and hygiene challenges were necessary to be addressed and worthwhile investment for government at all levels.