At least 102,000 children under the age of five die annually due to diseases caused by poor sanitation and unhygienic practices, the Minister of Water Resources, Engr Suleiman H. Adamu, has said.
The minister, who was quoting figures from ‘WASH watch,’ while briefing journalists ahead of this year’s global Hand washing Day, also said 33 percent of the children under the same age bracket are stunted.
Daily Trust reports that hand washing day is being celebrated every October 15 as designated by the United Nations General Assembly as a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap.
The minister noted that washing hand with soap remains an affordable, accessible ‘do it yourself’ vaccine for sanitation and hygiene related diseases like diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever and pneumonia which are prevalent in our communities.
‘’Hand washing is estimated to cut deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by a quarter. It also helps to ensure the sustenance of efforts to end neglected tropical diseases such as river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis among others,’’ he said.
Engr Adamu noted that absence of hand washing stations in schools, healthcare facilities and workplaces was an equity issue for girls and women, particularly for menstrual hygiene management.
He announced that the federal government would be rolling out a national programme to end open defecation in the country by the target year of 2025 through the ‘Clean Nigeria: Use the toilet’ campaign to be launched on November 19 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The theme of this year’s celebration is ‘Clean Hands for All’ and the ministry, the National Task Group on Sanitation had lined up series of events to mark the day.