If you are a parent then it’s time for you to wake up. According toUnited Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), at least 800 children die in Nigeria everyday owing to poor sanitation conditions and inadequate water and about 1,400 deaths occur daily in Nigeria due diarrhoea.
In a statement signed by the Chief of Communication of UNICEF, Doune Porter, children in the first few months of their lives are exposed to numerous vulnerable and water borne diseases which are transmitted to their body through unwashed hands. UNICEF also stated that, ‘Over 800 of the approximately 1400 children die due to diarrhoea each day which can be attributed to inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene. Infants in their first months of life are more prone to diseases transmitted as a result of unwashed hands’
According to government sources, the Federal Government loses N455 billion annually due to poor sanitation which is equivalent to 1.3 percent of Nigeria’s gross domestic product (GDP). Rabi Jimeta, permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources disclosed this fact last month at a national stakeholder’s consultative workshop on draft hygiene promotion strategy and implementation guidelines for Nigeria in Abuja.
According to UNICEF, an average of 82 per cent of people wash their hands before eating but only 53 per cent of people wash their hands after defecation. Another serious public health issue is that only 14 per cent people wash their hands with soap after cleaning a child’s faeces. Regular washing hands with soap before eating, handling food, after using the toilet, cleaning nappies etc. save more lives in reality than taking vaccinations and medications.
According to UNICEF, regular washing of hands with soap can reduce deaths from diarrhoea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter. It is also an important line of defence against the spread of Ebola in Nigeria which needed to be sustained to prevent other communicable diseases.