Hand washing: Over 150, 000 children don’t see their fifth birthday due to diarrhoea
By: Chioma Umeha
Every year, over 150, 000 children do not see their fifth birthday due to diarrheal diseases caused by unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene practices, a new study by U-Report confirmed. Experts have said that the trend is worrisome as simple handwashing with soap has been found to be one of the cheapest, simplest and most effective means of preventing diarrhoea and pneumonia, the leading causes of Nigerian child’s death.
“Every year over 150,000 children die from diarrhoea alone, largely caused by unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene practices. Hand washing with soap is one of the cheapest, simplest and most effective means of preventing diarrhoea and 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 warding off these common diseases,” the U-Report said.
According to experts, this year’s Global Hand washing Day, being the seventh edition further underscores the importance of hand washing with soap in disease prevention and spread, in view of the current global fight against Ebola virus disease (EVD). A report on Tuesday, by UNICEF noted that hand washing with soap has been an important tool, an additional line of defence in the fight against the spread of EVD.
“In the fight against the spread of Ebola Virus Disease, hand washing with soap has been an important tool, an additional line of defence,” the report said.
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 his/her family against the infections and prevents the spread of disease outbreaks, the UNICEF report said. Everyone can choose to wash hands with soap after using toilet and before eating/preparing food and thereby protect themselves and their families, it added. Global Hand washing Day a reminder that the simple practice saves lives.
In Nigeria, more than 10 million people will be reached with hand washing messages through various activities planned for this year’s commemoration of Global hand washing Day, the UNICEF report said. It added: “There will be nationwide hand washing promotion through high profile hand washing demonstrations in schools and communities, mass rallies, road shows, airing of jingles on radio and television. Also, dissemination of hand washing messages on U-Report, Facebook and Twitter have been planned for creating massive awareness on hand washing with soap in the country, the report said.
UNICEF has been supporting the governments in raising awareness about Ebola in Nigeria as well as in other affected countries, working to counter misconceptions about the disease that put even more people at risk. ‘Nigeria has done well so far to contain the spread of Ebola’, said Jean Gough, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria. “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’, she added.