WaterAid-Nigeria says about 60,000 children below the age of five years still die every year in Nigeria, owing to diarrhea infections.
Miss Oluseyi Abdulmalik, Communications and Media Manager of WaterAid Nigeria, disclosed this in a statement on Sunday in Bauchi, to mark the Global Handwashing Day, celebrated annually on Oct. 15.
“We already know progress is not fast enough; about 60,000 children under 5 years in Nigeria still die each year because of diarrhea.
“That is linked to dirty water, poor toilets and poor hygiene, pointing out that everyone has a right to water and our leaders must act to leave no one behind.”
According to her, washing hands with soap and water reduces cases of diarrhea by almost 50 percent, yet on average, around the world only 19 per cent of people wash hands with soap after defecation.
She urged governments to prioritise the promotion of handwashing, along with water and sanitation to save lives.
She said the WaterAid Nigeria Country Director, Dr ChiChi Aniagolu-Okoye, also advised on personal hygiene and an intake of good diet as health boosters.
“Handwashing with soap and good food hygiene brings health and economic benefits.
“Handwashing with soap is essential for health workers, improving quality of care and reducing risk of cross-infection. It also makes children healthier.
“We are advocating alongside our partners, Action Against Hunger, to demand that governments should develop cross-ministerial coordination mechanisms between the WASH and nutrition sector championed at the highest level to support sharing of information and joint planning and implementation of policies.
Abdulmalik urged policy makers to prioritise nutrition-sensitive WASH interventions and include specific objectives to improve WASH within nutrition plans and policies.
“Clear entry points to integrate WASH and nutrition include behaviour change promotion and improvement of provision of WASH in healthcare facilities and schools,” she said.
The WaterAid Communications Officer, also advocated more investments to improve handwashing practice and access to basic handwashing.
“For citizens to join in making this happen by using the power they wield in their hands to vote in the coming elections for leaders, who pledge commitment to improving WASH access, ” she said.
Abdulmalik, however, enjoined all citizens to participate in the WASH project, to achieve a healthier environment and country.