Minister for State on Environment, Sharon Ikeazor, has urged Nigerians to always wash their hands with soap, as such would reduce infections by 50 per cent and respiratory diseases by 25 per cent.
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.
“As it would improve the health, education, social and economic status of the country,” she said.
She called 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 of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu urged all stakeholders for effective awareness on importance of hand washing.
He added that constant practice of hand washing could promote the health of people in the country.
Adamu, who was represented by his Permanent Secretary, Mr Echono Sonny, said that hand washing was one of the first step to prevent diseases.
He urged Nigerians to prevent disease transmission through regular hand washing with soap.
The Vice Principal, Federal Government Boys College, Mary Nnanwogu, said that the school authority was delighted and privileged for the ministry to choose the school to host the event.
Nnanwogu urged Nigerians to the right thing by washing their hands with soap properly to them enable promote a healthy and better life.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event was also marked with quiz competition on sanitation and hygiene practices for selected six primary schools in the FCT.
City Royal Junior School, Nyanya, took first position, Federal Government College Nursery and Primary School; Kwali took second while the third position was taken by Federal Government Girls College, Bwarri, all in the FCT.
The schools were given anti-bacterial soaps for participating in the competition, while hand washing facilities were given to the first school that took first position.
Miss Chiaka Okeke, a Primary 5 student of City Royal Junior School, said that she was happy and grateful that her school took first position on the competition.
“My advice to my fellow students is that they should make sure they always wash their hands as well as taken part of the environmental sanitation in their various areas.