As the world commemorates this year’s edition of the Global Handwashing Day, Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources Engr. Suleiman Adamu has said handwashing with soap cuts deaths from diarrhoea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by a quarter.
Adamu stated this in Abuja while addressing journalists on activities outlined to mark this year’s Global Handwashing Day with the theme “Hand Hygiene for All.” He said recent studies have shown that regular handwashing with soap can reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 infection by 36%.
“Handwashing with soap is critical to disease prevention and not only helps people improve their health, but also removes barriers to economic opportunity, allows children to learn and grow, and helps strengthen communities.
“It is considered as an affordable, accessible “do-it-yourself” vaccine for sanitation and hygiene related diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid fever and pneumonia which are prevalent in our communities. It is estimated to cut deaths from diarrhoea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by a quarter. A recent study showed that regular handwashing with soap can reduce the likelihood of COVID-19 infection by 36%,” the minister said.
The theme of this years’ Global Handwashing Day is ‘Hand Hygiene for All’ and according to the Nigerian minister is aligned to the recent Hand Hygiene Global Initiative launched by World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF to implement the recommendations on the prevention and control of COVID-19.
“This initiative is aimed at ensuring behaviour change and lasting infrastructure beyond the pandemic and requires putting in place policies, institutional environment, handwashing facilities and scaling up successful evidence-based approaches for a sustained hand hygiene practice,” Adamu said and noted that Nigeria needs to develop a comprehensive roadmap to ensure that hand hygiene remains a mainstay among the populace, long after the pandemic.
Since the outbreak of the coronavirus disease there has been a reawakened consciousness of handwashing practices and the Minister says it is important Nigerians maximise the opportunity and ensure the sustainability of these infrastructures and behaviour, to achieve hand hygiene for all.
“This calls for collaboration and partnership with all Stakeholders because everyone has a role to play. My Ministry was recently admitted as a partner of the Global Handwashing Partnership which is the umbrella body of organizations promoting the cause of handwashing with soap globally.
“We will be leveraging on the opportunities that this global partnership presents to Nigeria towards improving the culture of handwashing with soap in the country,” he said.