UNICEF says not less than 800 of about 1,400 child deaths Nigeria are caused by diarrhoea daily which could be attributed to poor sanitation and inadequate water.
This is contained in a statement signed by the Chief of Communication, UNICEF, Ms Doune Porter, on Thursday in Abuja and made available to the News agency of Nigeria (NAN).
It said that children at the first month of their lives were very vulnerable to diseases easily transmitted through unwashed hands.
“Over 800 of the approximately 1,400 child deaths from diarrhoea each day can be attributed to inadequate water, sanitation or hygiene.
“Infants in the first months of life are particularly vulnerable to diseases transmitted by unwashed hands,” it said.
According to the statement, an average of 82 per cent of people washes their hands before eating, while only 53 per cent of people washed their hands with soap after defecation.
It also said that only about 14 per cent of people washed their hands with soap after cleaning a child’s faeces which posed a serious public health risk.
“Regular hand washing with soap after using toilet, after 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 diarrhoea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter,” it said.
It added that hand washing with soap was also an important line of defence against the spread of Ebola in Nigeria which needed to be sustained to prevent other communicable diseases.
However, UNICEF in the bid to curb poor hand washing practice would collaborate with partners to reach at least 10 million Nigerians through high profile hand washing demonstrations in schools and communities.
NAN reports that Global Hand Washing day is commemorated on Oct. 15 yearly.