Environment Minister Urges Nigerians To Continue The Culture Of Handwashing

By Bukar Bolori

The Minister of State for Environment, Dr. Iziaq Salako has advised Nigerians to continue to embrace the culture of hand washing, noting that washing of hands with soap under running water chases many diseases faraway.

The Minister gave the advised on Monday at the Federal Government Boys College, Wuye – Abuja during the commemoration of this year’s Global Hand Washing Day with theme, “Clean hands are within reach.”

The Minister said: “Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, it may interest you to know that a simple act of washing hands with soap under running water can reduce infection by 50% and respiratory disease by 25%. Research has shown that creating awareness on proper handwashing helps communities to stay healthy by reducing the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by 23-40%, reducing diarrhoea illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58%, reducing respiratory illnesses, like colds, in the general population by 16-21% and also reduces absenteeism due to gastrointestinal illness in school children by 29-57%.”

He added that: “Handwashing with soap under running water is the most cost-effective health intervention compared with others such as immunization and responding to disease outbreaks. Hands often act as agents that carry disease-causing pathogens from person to person, either through direct contact or indirectly via surfaces, hence hand hygiene is regarded as one of the most important elements of infection control activities and alone can significantly reduce the risk of cross-transmission of infection in healthcare facilities.

“Research has shown that handwashing helps in battling the rise of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR). Resistance to antibiotics is one of the greatest threats to global health, food security and development. Increasing numbers of serious infections are becoming more difficult to treat because of the loss of efficacy of antibiotics which are often misused and abused; hence it is very important that we reduce the number of these infections by washing hands frequently.”

Earlier, Mrs. Motunrayo Mgbakogu of Well-being Foundation Africa, speaking on behalf of the president of the NGO, Mrs. Toyin Ojora Saraki said: “Today, on the occasion of the significant Global Handwashing Day, we are reminded of the remarkable impact that a seemingly simple act like proper handwashing technique can have on public health and overall wellbeing.”

She disclosed that: “In collaboration with the Dettol Nigeria Hygiene Quest programme, we have extended our reach and work towards achieving SDG3, SDG6 and SDG17, positively influencing the lives of 3,966 students, engaging with 2,587 individuals within communities, and equipping 9,974 mothers in healthcare facilities with indispensable knowledge concerning proper handwashing techniques. It is noteworthy that these figures pertain to the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) alone. These achievements symbolise not just transformed lives but also strengthened communities, and they illuminate the path toward a more sustainable future.”

She advised that: “Let us collectively use this day as a powerful and poignant reminder of the pivotal role that proper hand hygiene plays in averting the proliferation of infections and in safeguarding the health and welfare of our communities. It is our firm resolve to persist in advocating for resolute policies and mobilising resources with the unwavering objective of ensuring that no individual is left marginalised or underserved.”

She said: “We extend our gratitude to all of you for your steadfast commitment and determination in shaping a future where every individual has the privilege of enjoying the fundamental human rights to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene. Your unwavering dedication is truly commendable and offers a beacon of hope for a more equitable and healthier, #CleanNaija.”

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