3.5 million children suffer diarrhea owing to inadequate hand washing facilities – Minister

Over 3.5 million children in Nigeria suffer from diarrhoea annually due to poor access to water, sanitation and hand hygiene facilities, Mohammed Abdullahi, Minister of Environment said.

Abdullahi also expressed concern that a large number of children die every year due to sanitation and hygiene-enabled diseases.

The minister who was represented by Abdullahi Bokani, deputy director of Solid Waste, Ministry of Environment stated this at an event organised by Breakthrough Action, a non-governmental organisation, to mark the 2022 global hand washing day at the Government Boys College Apo, Abuja.

According to the minister, a simple act of washing hands with soap can reduce infection by 50 percent which also reduces any respiratory disease by 25 percent.

“It is a known fact that a large number of children die every year due to sanitation and hygiene-enabled diseases. Globally, basic hand hygiene is often neglected, due to a lack of access to hand washing facilities in key places-40 percent of the world’s population or 3 billion people do not have hand washing facilities with water and soap at home,” he said.

“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,” he added.

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The minister said addressing sanitation and hygiene challenges in the country is a necessary and worthwhile investment for government at all levels, as a way to significantly improve the health, education, social and economic status of a country.

“This is because, for every N100 spent improving sanitation and hygiene, between Three Hundred Naira, N300 and Four Hundred Naira, N400 is saved which can be invested in health, education, social and economic development.

“Therefore I want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians especially those in places of authority (public or private) to ensure adequate provision for Sanitation and Hygiene including hand washing facilities at all times,” the minister stated.

He also requested all the sanitation desks established by the Ministry in all the thirty-Six states and FCT to commemorate the day and embark on activities aimed at promoting good hand-washing practices

“Let me also use this forum to charge all state Governments, Commissioners of Environment, Local Government Chairmen/Councillors, Environmental Health Officers, NGOs, CBOs, FBOs, Development partners, Organized private sector among others across the country to actively step up their campaigns on hand washing as an effective means of preventing disease transmission,” he further said.

Global Hand Washing Day is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases, save lives and help in meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 6. 2.

Also, Nuhu Idris, program officer of risk communication at Breakthrough Action Nigeria, said the culture of hand washing must be prioritized to help prevent diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, and COVID-19.

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