BusinessDay

4 in 5 healthcare centres in Nigeria lack hygiene facilities – UNICEF

... 84% Nigerians at risk of infectious diseases

Four out of five healthcare centres in Nigeria do not have basic hand hygiene facilities, the United Nations’ Children Fund (UNICEF) disclosed on Thursday.

The Agency also revealed only three out of five Nigerians have access to basic handwashing facilities -leaving families and communities at risk of many infectious diseases, with children particularly vulnerable.

UNICEF, in a statement ahead of the global handwashing day, expressed concern that the percentage of Nigerians with access to these life-saving facilities has reduced from 21 percent in 2018 to 16 percent in 2019, indicating a worrying downward trend. This means up to 84 percent of Nigerians are now at risk of infectious diseases.

“The downward trend in access to hand hygiene services in Nigeria is very worrying,” said Rushnan Murtaza, Deputy Representative, UNICEF Nigeria.

“Handwashing with soap and water may seem like a simple act – but it is lifesaving. It protects us from many diseases, including cholera. We must work together to make handashing not only possible, but a habit. This will have a hugely positive impact for the health and well-being of all Nigerians.”

The UN agency stressed that handwashing is critical in the fight against infectious diseases.

Read also: 1 in 6 Nigerian youths suffering from poor mental health UNICEF

Kelly Ann Naylor, UNICEF WASH Director said, “Global response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic have created an unprecedented time for hand hygiene. Yet progress remains far too slow for the most vulnerable, underserved communities,”

“Hand hygiene cannot be viewed as a temporary provision to manage COVID-19. Further long-term investment in water, sanitation and hygiene can help prevent the next health crisis from coming. It also means fewer people falling ill with respiratory infections, fewer children dying from diarrheal diseases, and more pregnant mothers and newborns protected from preventable conditions like sepsis,” he added.

Globally, around three in ten people – or 2.3 billion – do not have hand washing facilities with water and soap available at home. The situation is worse in the least developed countries, with over six in ten people without access to basic hand hygiene, UNICEF said.

The latest data from UNICEF show that some progress has been achieved since 2015. For example, the global population with access to basic hand hygiene at home has increased from 5 billion to 5.5 billion, or from 67 percent to 71 percent. However, if current trends persist, 1.9 billion people will still not have access to basic hand hygiene by the end of the decade.

According to the latest estimates: Four in ten schools worldwide do not have basic hygiene services with water and soap, affecting 818 million students, of which 462 million attend schools with no facility at all.

In Nigeria, nine out of ten schools have no place for children to wash their hands.
One in three healthcare facilities worldwide does not have hand hygiene facilities at points of care where the patient, healthcare worker, and treatment involve contact with the patient.

UNICEF urges governments to commit to providing hand hygiene, not as a temporary response to the pandemic, but as an investment in public health and economic resilience.

The latest joint UNICEF and WHO report identifies five accelerators that can enable governments to rapidly scale up access to hand hygiene, including good governance, smart public finance, capacity building, consistent data, and innovation.

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