YOUTHWASH, an NGO in partnership with the UN Children’s Fund is strengthening capacity of Youth Corp Members to activate and sustain Environmental Health Clubs (EHCs) and overall hygiene promotion in schools.
The group’s National Coordinator, Mr Nature Obiakor told newsmen in Abuja that 20 volunteers, 60 Hygiene Education Teachers, and 30 Community Health Education Workers also been trained on hygiene promotion in the six area councils under the FCT.
According to him, “hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet has severally proven to be the best preventive approach to healthy living.
“It is considered as the most cost effective way to mitigate diseases such as cholera, pneumonia, diarrhea, typhoid fever and can save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention.
“Good hand washing practice also plays a pivotal role in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards improving well-being and reducing poverty.”
Commenting on the 2017 Global Hand Washing Day, he said it was sad that a third of Nigerian hospitals lacked access to potable water and toilets, calling for an immediate reversal of this trend.
Quoting a study conducted by WASHWatch, he said that over 60, 000 children below the age of five in Nigeria die from diarrhea diseases caused by the country’s poor levels of access to WASH facilities.
“Also, UNICEF in 2010 highlighted that 272 million school days are missed due to diarrhea infection each year.”
Obiakor said that access to water and hygiene is a right issue, not a privilege or charity as largely perceived especially among the political class that sees it as a campaign tool.
He called for an urgent need to strengthen local government institutions at all levels, as well as harmonise the activities of the different coordinating bodies for maximum productivity.
He said that promoting hand washing practices does not mean making sure people have access to hygiene facilities, rather such facilities must also be utilised because the benefits of hand washing depend on people washing their hands consistently at critical times.
“Choosing hand washing is choosing health which is important to our future; Good hygiene practices must be a habit which requires choosing to perform them not only on Global Handwashing Day, but on a regular basis. ”
The Global Hand washing Day is celebrated on October 15 annually since 2008 when it was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly; the 2017 theme is ‘Our Hands, Our Future’.
It is a day set aside to promote a global culture of hand washing with soap and raise awareness on the benefits of the practice.
The theme for this year’s event is conceptualised to emphasise how hand washing protects our health, and offer us the opportunity to build a sustainable future.