The minister of environment, Mrs Sharon Ikeazor, has said 3.5 million Nigerian children suffer from diarrhoea annually as a result of lack of access to proper sanitation facilities.
The minister who stated this in Abuja during an event to mark the Global Handwashing Day with the theme; “Our Future is At hand-Let’s Move Forward together” at the Federal Government Boys College, Apo Abuja said 40 percent of the world population representing 3 billion people lack access to handwashing facilities with water and soap at home.
The minister therefore directed the establishment sanitation desks in the ministry in all the 36 states and the FCT to commemorate the day and embark on activities aimed at promoting good handwashing practices.
She said a large number of children die every year due to sanitation and hygiene enabled diseases.
“Globally, basic hand hygiene is often neglected due to lack of access to handwashing facilities in key places. 40% of world’s population or 3 billion people do not have handwashing facilities with water and soap at home. More than 3.5 million children suffer from diarrheal diseases and this is not a small figure. Children who are less than five years old are more prone to such diseases because of lack of knowledge about the importance of handwashing.
“The simple act of washing hands with soap can reduce infections by 50% and respiratory diseases by 25%. Hand washing saves lives,” she said.
The noted further that many people tend to wash their hands with only water, which has proven ineffective in removing most germs.
She added that for many Nigerians, cleaning hands with soap and water is not considered necessary, as soaps are mostly reserved for laundry and bathing.
She said “Let me use this opportunity to inform Nigerians that cleaning hands with soap and water removes germs much more effectively and significantly reduces the risk of disease transmission.
“Hands must be washed as much as practically possible and must be washed at critical moments such as after using the toilet, after coughing or sneezing, after cleaning a child who has gone to the toilet, before preparing food, before and after eating, and after playing with animals,” she said.