By Asmau Ahmad & Bilkisu Ado Zango
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says “80 per cent of maternal deaths are caused by unhygienic delivery practices at Primary Health Care Centers (PHCs) nationwide”.
Speaking to newsmen, the UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Specialist, Mr Bioye Ogunjobi made the disclosure at the National Stakeholders workshop on Draft Hygiene Promotion Strategy and Guidelines workshop in Abuja, jointly organized by the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and UNICEF explained that, effective provision of WASH facilities will go a long way to promote safe health care.
He indicated that in Nigeria, many PHCs do not adhere to minimum WASH standards to provide adequate and safe levels of health care added that, reports shows that 80 per cent of maternal deaths are caused by unhygienic delivery practices in PHCs across the country.
The WASH Specialist who reiterated that, for PHCs to work well, they must have good source of water, safe excreta disposal, drainage, hospital waste and hygiene promotion facilities said it is worth noting that inadequate access to water, sanitation and hygienic facilities are known to cause 10 out of 100 hospitalizations in Nigeria stressed the need for stakeholders to see access to WASH as a human right, saying “this plays a vital role in attaining universal health coverage.’’
Ogunjobi said it is saddening to see that there are no specific policies on hygiene promotion in PHCs as it were, healthcare facilities are overcrowded, they lack toilets, access to water, patients and health workers may be exposed to danger added that, Nigeria needs to have a hygiene promotion strategy, saying access to water and sanitation was central to development and that 50 per cent transmission of water and excreta related diseases would be reduced to the barest minimum.
According to the UNICEF Wash Specialist, there is an ongoing research on Menstrual Hygiene Management to ascertain the level of awareness on myths and practices which Nigeria is one of the 14 countries carrying out such research, saying Katsina, Anambra and Ogun were the targeted states would enable the organisation know how to intervene to reduce negative beliefs and taboos associated with menstruation in some communities urged Nigerians to create accessible sanitation facilities, privacy, access to water supply and effective waste disposal for menstruating girls.