By Doyin Ojosipe
As the world commemorates the seventh Global Hand washing Day this year, the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has emphasised the need for constant and proper hand washing by everyone as a way to prevent spread of diseases such as diarrhoea and Ebola.
According to the UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Jean Gough, who spoke at a recent event hosted by Dettol to promote hand washing, every year over 150,000 children die from diarrhoea alone, largely caused by unsafe water, sanitation and unhygienic practices.
“Hand washing with soap is one of the cheapest, simplest and most effective means of preventing diarrhoea & pneumonia, the leading causes of child deaths in Nigeria. As the Ebola response takes its toll on the health services in the affected countries, the practice of hand washing is even more important in wading off these common diseases,” Gough said.
She noted that UNICEF has been supporting the government in Nigeria and other Ebola-affected countries in raising the awareness about the deadly disease and working to counter misconceptions about the disease that put even more people at risk.
“In the fight against the spread of Ebola Virus Disease, hand washing with soap has been an important tool, an additional line of defence.
“This year’s theme “Choose hand washing, Choose Health” is apt, given that hand washing with soap not only protects the individual, but also protects the family against the infections and prevents the spread of disease outbreaks. Everyone can choose to wash hands with soap after using toilet and before eating/preparing food and thereby protects themselves and their families, “Gough said.
She commended the Nigerian government for its rapid response to Ebola outbreak saying, “Nigeria has done well so far to contain the spread of Ebola. What Nigeria needs now is sustained promotion of hand washing. Let’s pledge to make hand washing with soap a national habit and reduce the number of Nigerian children who die from diarrhoea annually.”