The United Nations Children’s Fund has said that Nigeria loses over 150,000 children from diarrhea annually, largely caused by unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene practices, NaijaAgroNet gathered.
This revelation was made in a press release by Doune Porter, Chief of Communication of the agency as the world observes October 15, as Global Handwashing Day.
In a survey which was carried out by UNICEF in six states of Nigeria, it found that an average of 82 per cent of people washed their hands before eating, while only 53 per cent out of the total washed their hands with soap after defecation. Alarmingly, only about 14 per cent of people wash their hands with soap after cleaning a child’s faeces.
Regular handwashing with soap after using toilets, changing children’s nappies and before eating or handling food saves more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention. It can reduce deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter, NaijaAgroNet reports.
To mark this year’s Global Handwashing Day in Nigeria, UNICEF, with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources, the National Task Group on Sanitation and other partners plans to reach at least 10 million Nigerians this year through high profile handwashing demonstrations in schools and communities, mass rallies, road shows, airing of jingles on radio and television, and dissemination of handwashing messages on U-Report, Facebook and Twitter.
NaijaAgroNet learnt that the eighth Global Handwashing Day comes less than a month after the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, including hygiene for the first time in the global agenda. One of the SDG targets is to achieve ‘access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene’ by 2030.
Global Head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programmes ,Sanjay Wijesekera, said, “Along with drinking water and access to toilets, hygiene – particularly handwashing with soap – is the essential third leg of the stool holding up the Goal on water and sanitation. From birth – when unwashed hands of birth attendants can transmit dangerous pathogens – right through babyhood, school and beyond, handwashing is crucial for a child’s health. It is one of the cheapest, simplest, most effective health interventions we have.”
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