By Tayo Taiwo, Abuja
No fewer than one hundred and sixty-seven million Nigerians lacked access to basic hygiene services, the minister of water resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu has said.
Adamu who quoted a 2019 Water, Sanitation and Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping (WASHNORM) report, spoke during a virtual press briefing to commemorate the 2020 world hand washing day.
He said the WASHNORM report indicated that only 16% have access to basic hygiene services as shown by availability of handwashing facility with water and soap.
Our correspondent reports that basic handwashing and other essential hygiene practices were part of the campaigns that gained more traction owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But in his speech, the water resources minister observed that “in schools and health care facilities, access to basic hygiene is 10% and 20% respectively while only 5% of public places such as markets and parks have basic hygiene facilities”.
“Handwashing with soap is critical to disease prevention and not only helps people improve their health, but also removes barriers to economic opportunity, allows children to learn and grow, and helps strengthen communities.
He also declared that handwashing is an affordable, accessible “do-it-yourself” vaccine for sanitation and hygiene related diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid fever and pneumonia which are prevalent in our communities”
The minister however reiterated the federal government’s determination to sustain the campaign for basic hygiene noting “as you may be aware, the ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the Toilet’ Campaign to end open defecation in the country by the target year of 2025 is ongoing.”
He listed part of the activities lined by the National Task Group on Sanitation (NTGS) to include a webinar to “unveil the national handwashing study report which is expected to inform handwashing programming in the country”.
Our correspondent reports that the day with the theme ‘Hand Hygiene for All’ was designated by the United Nations General Assembly as a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap, which is an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases.