WaterAid Nigeria, a non-governmental organisation, inaugurated the Hygiene for Health campaign to promote sustained investment for hand washing in Nigeria.
Speaking during the unveiling, WaterAid Country Director, Ms. Evelyn Mere, said the campaign was also targeted at increasing access to a functional, safe, inclusive, equitable and gender-responsive water, sanitation and hygiene services.
According to her, the campaign is part of activities to commemorate the 2021 Global Handwashing Day, which emphasises collective action to ensure that hygiene services becomes a reality.
She said the recent COVID-19 pandemic had highlighted the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene access to curtail its spread
She said that handwashing with soap or ash was a simple but critical way to ensure overall health.
“Yet in Nigeria, 167 million people lack access to handwashing facilities with soap, low access to these basic services continue to pose a huge threat to public life and the economy.
“It exacerbates poverty, poor quality healthcare services and deepening already existing inequalities.
“It goes without saying that a well-equipped and resilient health system is a must, good hygiene is a highly cost-effective public health measure and a cornerstone of safe and effective health care.
“It is crucial to protecting against a range of diseases and stopping the transmission of COVID-19,” she said.
Mere said that in spite of the importance of good hygiene, only about one in three health facilities had hand hygiene stations with soap and water at points of care, while a quarter had hand hygiene stations with soap and water and toilets.
She, however, said that as the country continued to seek responses to COVID-19, it must recognise that its future was in its hands.
She noted that investing in water, sanitation and hygiene was not only critical in ending this pandemic, but in bringing the economy back to life in productivity and sustainable development.
Mr Job Ominyi, UNICEF WASH Specialist, said the availability of functional water, sanitation and hygiene services was an indispensable foundation for infection control and prevention, quality primary health care and universal health coverage.