Nigeria’s Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu on Monday, called for collective action from the private sector and other stakeholders to encourage handwashing practice in all public places in the country.
Adamu, who made this call at an event to commemorate the 2022 Global Handwashing Day in Abuja said handwashing was the first line of defense against diseases, saying there was need for contingency plans to forestall possible outbreaks.
He noted that these facilities should be adapted for the most vulnerable persons, like those living with disabilities, saying this would promote inclusive development.
He was represented by Mrs Elizabeth Ugoh, a Director with the ministry.
“All of us; government, donors, civil society, private sector, media, researchers and community, must commit to playing our part in ensuring that opportunities for handwashing are provided for everyone, everywhere.
“We should strive to eliminate existing disparities and inequalities in access as we promote effective handwashing through policy, programmes and advocacy at all levels towards making it a national culture that is imbibed by all’’.
Adamu said behavioural change required that the action is performed consistently at key times, saying strategies that would ensure the sustainability of these practices should be engaged.
He noted that the ministry had demonstrated the necessary political will needed to drive a lasting change in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Sector (WASH) in Nigeria.
The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Didi Walson-Jack, said behavioural change coupled with the enabling environment was essential for making handwashing a habit.
She said the National Task group on sanitation was promoting and advocating for increased adoption of handwashing with soap among the populace to break the feacal-oral route of disease transmission and improve access to hand hygiene for all Nigerians.
“It is our believe that these activities and collective efforts will help in ingraining the habit of effective handwashing with soap in our homes, schools, health care facilities, markets, worship, work and other public places, as we move towards building a healthy and virile nation’’.
Mr Job Ominyi, UNICEF Representative, said the theme for the day had shown partners’ coordination through the inauguration of the Hand Hygiene for All Roadmap.
He said all stakeholders must urgently play their commensurate roles to make universal access to hand hygiene a reality.
He however said universal embrace and practice of hand hygiene was capable of significantly reducing numerous diseases.
“UNICEF continues to be available and committed to collaborate with other development partners in supporting the FG to realise universal access to hand hygiene’’.
Mr Emmanuel Iorkunbur, WaterAid Nigeria Representative, said there was need for the private sector to make hygiene materials available, affordable and accessible to all including disadvantaged populations.
“Together, we must invest in hygiene behavior promotion, citizens must practice hand washing and make it a lifestyle across all states local government and rural communities.
“As a member of the global handwashing partnership, WaterAid Nigeria will continue to collaborate with all stakeholders, especially government at all levels to strengthen systems and build industry partnerships’’.
Dr Nicholas Igwe, National Coordinator, Organised Private sector in WASH, said cholera outbreaks and COVID-19 pandemic had raised the importance of handwashing as an effective way of disease prevention and control.
Igwe said public health was important for the prosperity of the country, adding that the private sector was working to realise this through sanitation.
Highlights of the event were; a symbolic Handwashing display by dignitaries and students of various schools, music and drama presentations.
Oct. 15 is celebrated as Global Handwashing Day, to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing, as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
The 2022 theme is, `Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene’