As Nigerians joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2018 Global Handwashing Day, an annual event commemorated on 15 October, stakeholders have advised Nigerians to be involved in the process of stemming the tide in disease spread, by imbibing the practice of regular handwashing.
According to a statement released by Global Handwashing Day Partnership from Washington DC, hands are the leading carriers of germs that cause diarrhea and respiratory infections like pneumonia. Handwashing at critical times – such as before a meal or after using the toilet – stops the spread of disease-causing germs. Consistent handwashing with soap reduces the incidence of diarrheal by nearly half and respiratory infections by 25% among children under 5.
In view of the prevalence of infectious diseases in the country, which range from protozoal diarrhea,to hepatitis A and E, typhoid fever, leptospirosis and schistosomiasis, and others, regular handwashing, and access to portable water serve as protective shield from all these, experts asserted.
Disclosing this year’s Global Handwashing Day theme, “Clean Hands – a recipe for health,” the Global Handwashing Day Partnership document, emphasised the linkages between handwashing and food. “Handwashing is an important part of keeping food safe, preventing diseases, and helping children grow strong. Yet, handwashing is not practiced as consistently or as thoroughly as it should be. Diarrheal disease limits the body’s ability to absorb nutrition from food and is a major cause of death in low resource settings. Handwashing with soap is an effective way to prevent these losses”.
Celebrating the event in Nigeria, the Health Minister, Prof. Isaac Adewole, stressed the importance of regular handwashing in reducing disease burden, adding that the activities of other partners in the health industry to promote good hygiene have helped in reducing the burden on the Federal Government.
The minister, who was represented by the National Coordinator, Food Safety and Quality Programme, Mr. Fubara Chuku, at the exercise organised by Dettol as part of its school hygiene programme, in commemoration of the Global Hand-washing Day stated that government is making efforts to include the techniques of proper hand-washing in school curriculum to enable children learn it early in life
Critical food-related times for handwashing with soap include: before cooking or preparing food, before eating, and before feeding someone (including breastfeeding). The contamination of food can lead to a wide range of illnesses and outbreaks, many of which are particularly dangerous for young children and people with compromised immune systems.
Global Handwashing Day raises awareness of the importance of handwashing and encourages action to promote and sustain handwashing habits. Organizations and individuals can celebrate Global Handwashing Day by planning an event, participating in a digital campaign, or simply spreading the word about the importance of handwashing.
The Global Handwashing Partnership is an international coalition of organizations working to promote handwashing with soap.