BY PETER DURU
MAKURDI – The United Nations Chidren’s Fund, UNICEF in partnership with the Benue State Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Agency, BERWASA, have commenced activities and aggressive campaigns to sensitize the people of Benue state on the importance of hand washing to mark this year’s Global Hand Washing Day celebrations with the theme “Our Hands, Our Future.”
Speaking at the flag off of the campaign at Mbakor Community Secondary School Wannune, Tarka Local Government Area, the General Manager of BERWASA, Engr. Ejembi Ella said the campaign was aimed at inculcating the habit of hand washing in children and the generality of the people.
Represented by the agency’s Assistant Hygiene Education Officer, Mrs. Susan Ihomon, he explained that the campaign was targeted at children in view of its immense benefits to their health and those of their family members.
He explained that the programme was also aimed at enlightening the general populace on the need for them to form the habit of constantly washing their hands in order to prevent deadly but avoidable infections.
Ella counseled that the practice should be adhered to especially after the use of the toilet and before meals to avoid the danger of direct contacts with dangerous and life threatening diseases.
He commended UNICEF and the State Government for the various programmes to promote hygiene among the people of the state through various advocacies and projects and also for the schools selected for this year’s programme.
“I appeal to the citizenry, particularly women and children, to form the habit of constantly washing their hands, to prevent avoidable diseases and infections.” He said.
In her speech, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordinator for Tarka local government council, Mrs. Rose Gbande said the theme for this year’s Global Hand Washing “Our Hands, Our Future” was apt as it would secure a healthy future for all.
Mrs. Gbande appealed to the children and those present at the occasion to take the campaign to their various communities in order to save lives.
In his remark, Chairman of Tarka local government area, Mr. Anthony Sende said his administration had through the support of the Governor Samuel Ortom led administration embarked on advocacy to promote healthy living in the area.
Represented by his Deputy, Terns Aaver, he said “our advocacy for cleanliness has led to the rehabilitation of toilet facilities and construction of drainages at the local government secretariats and the Wannune main market.
I commend UNICEF for their partnership in various health related issues and for ensuring the success of this yearly exercise. I appeal to my people, particularly women and children, to form the habit of constantly washing their hands, to prevent infections and avoidable diseases.”
Mr. Sende also assured that going forward, his administration would sustain the campaign promising to ensure its success in the entire local government area.
Also speaking, the paramount ruler of the community, Ter Mbakor Chief Gandeourn Orakaa appealed to the people of the area to embrace hand washing as a way of life in order to live healthy.
On her part, the UNICEF consultant for Tarka and Buruku local government areas, Mrs. Blessing Isah explained that regular hand washing was critical to healthy living.
“If we all embrace regular hand washing it will help us avert diseases such as diarrhea, cholera and other avoidable diseases so we must all embrace the practice in our day to day life.” She said.
Highlights of the celebration was the use of puppets to demonstrate and promote the benefits of hand washing and the proper ways of washing the hands.
Some of the pupils from the 10 participating schools including James Iyongu and Catherine Hembaor commended UNICEF and the state government for availing the opportunity to know the benefits of regular hand washing.
The noted that the programme opened their eyes to the immense benefits inherent in hand washing to the health of an individual.
According to Hembaor “we have been thought how to wash our hands and the need for it to be a sustained habit if we must live a healthy life especially in our rural communities where our parents are not educated.
“So we will take the message to our homes and neigbourhood in order to get our parents and members of our communities well informed and educated on the importance of the practice to our health.”