By Asmau Ahmad
Sightsavers Nigeria, an international NGO, has urged stakeholders to improve access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) in the country.
The organisation’s Communication Officer, Ms Joy Tarbo, made the call in a statement to commemorate the 2022 Global Hand Washing Day (GHD) with the theme “Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene.
“The day is celebrated every Oct. 15 to create awareness on the need to promote, motivate and mobilise people around the world to improve their hand washing habits to eliminate diseases.
Tarbo said poor access to handwashing facilities have contributed to increased infectious diseases, including NTDs and COVID-19.
She added that “only 16 per cent of Nigerians have access to basic handwashing facilities at home, leaving families and communities at risk of infectious diseases, with children particularly vulnerable.
“In Nigeria, 21 per cent of Nigerians had access to basic handwashing facilities at home in 2018, compared to 16 per cent in 2019, indicating a worrying downward trend.
“As a result, Sightsavers joined forces with the Federal Ministry of Health and other partners to promote the need for improving access to hygiene services.”
She quoted Dr Sunday Isiyaku, the organisation’s Country Director, as saying “increasing access to WASH services in our communities and prioritising delivery of services based on the needs of each community in the intervention units is key in improving hand hygiene practices and vital for the control and elimination of NTDs.”
Also, Mrs Chizoma Opara, the National Coordinator, Clean Nigeria Campaign, Federal Ministry of Water Resources said “hand hygiene is critical to our lives, we need to make hand washing a habit.
“Nigeria has developed a roadmap for hand hygiene, and we want to see increased intersectoral collaboration for hand hygiene.
Dr Teyil Wamyil-Mshelia, the Country Coordinator, Trachoma at Sightsavers said “through strengthening collaboration between NTDs and WASH especially at the local government areas, we will begin to see more prioritised engagements and behaviour change leading to better hand hygiene.