BusinessDay

Institutionalize hand washing in primary schools- UNICEF

Desperate to curtail the spread of corona virus pandemic among children in primary schools, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) advocates for institutionalization of hand washing in all the primary schools in the country.

The water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) manager UNICEF field office Enugu, Mamita Bora Thakker on behalf of Enugu Chief field office Ibrahim Conteh, stated this in Enugu while handing over six hundred (600) hand wash equipments to the chairman of Enugu state universal basic education.

Thakker noted that the best practical thing to do globally to prevent the spread of any virus particularly among school children was to ensure regular hand washing is maintained among children in all the primary schools.

In the case of corona virus pandemic, the UNICEF wash manager said that since no vaccine or drug has been discovered to cure the pandemic the best practical preventive measure is hand washing with soap hence the organization decided to intervene in some schools in Enugu that had no hand washing points.

She advised that primary schools should form child’s hand wash clubs as a way to inculcate the habit of hand washing in the subconsciousness of the children at their young age so that it would become part of them as they get older.

“hand washing is the first line of defence for any infectious disease in the world over and it is most simple , we don’t have vaccine or drug yet ,so all we can do is to prevent and that is where hand washing comes in let us ensure that each school has a child club for behavioral change. it will ensure that hand washing is practiced everyday and supervised by the teachers’.

According to Thakker UNICEF would be handing over 128 hand washing stands to the Chairman of Enugu state Universal basic education for distribution while it would send the rest of the wash equipments direct to the benefiting schools in the three Local Government Areas selected in Enugu state. Aniniri, Isiuzo and Uzouwani LGAs.

” A total of 600 hand Washing stations would be distributed in three local government areas of Enugu state and 50 schools in each of of LGAs have been selected and 4 hand washing stations would be distributed in each of the schools making a total of 600 washing stations.

The reason is that we want to make sure that children are in a position to wash hands so that they are protected from the covid-19 pandemic”.

“We want systematized way of ensuring practice of hand washing in schools as they are starting to reopen as the most practical preventive measure to stop the pandemic from spreading, we want to make sure hand washing is practiced of which we need hand washing stations.” She said.

She advised the teachers to take the practice serious and not as a one time thing but some thing that would be done all the time to bring a generation change in the process, that the hand washing stations be regularly used, maintained well and used for the purpose for which it was meant.

Agatha Nzeribe Education specialist UNICEF Enugu office, however explained that wash stands were donated to Enugu state by GPE funds but was facilitated by UNICEF.

“we selected 50 schools each from the three LGAs we considered most in need, those that don’t have the wash facilities this is just to stimulate and encouraged the system to institutionalize these things and bring about a behavioral change.”.

Speaking after receiving the equipments the chairman of Enugu state Universal basic education Ikeji Asogwa commended UNICEF for her effort in remembering the welfare of children always in the state. He said that what they have done was to remind them that the pandemic is still very much around and that NCDC protocols should be seriously followed. He said before now he had started expanding primary school class rooms to give way for sitting arrangements to maintain social distance and train teachers on NCDC protocols.

The Board chairman of ESBEB Hyginus Eze also said that unicef had encourage the board to do more of their activities since the COVID-19 pandemic.

“UNICEF has made donations of 600 wash points and gallons of soap, we know that is not enough because we have more than one thousands two hundred primary schools in Enugu state (1200) and UNICEF is covering about 150 schools so we still have a very high number outstanding ” he said.

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