The Minister of State for Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor, has emphasised access to sanitation and hygiene as not just fundamental human rights which safeguard public health and human dignity, but as critical steps in disease prevention and control.
Ikeazor was speaking during an activity to mark the Global Hand Washing Day (HWD) celebrated every October 15. The day is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases, save lives and help nations meet Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 6.
“Addressing sanitation and hygiene challenges in the country is a necessary, worthwhile investment for government at all levels. I want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians in authority (public or private) to ensure adequate provision for sanitation and hygiene, including handwashing facilities,” she said.
Ikeazor said the advent of COVID-19 and its devastating global effect are important reminders that hand hygiene is a fundamental component of health and safety. She called on countries to start planning for the future to strengthen their COVID-19 response and accelerate their pace for full recovery, reduce vulnerability to new outbreaks and help control diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases.
“Hands’ washing is a simple, cost-effective and impactful intervention which improves the health, education, social and economic status of our dear country. The hands must be washed as much as possible, practically,” she maintained.
A statement by the ministry’s director of press, Saghir el Mohammed, said the Federal Ministry of Environment has collaborated with stakeholders over the years to deliver adequate sanitation and hygiene services to the citizenry, in form of capacity-building, provision of handwashing facilities in schools, advocacy/sensitization, environmental health surveillance of public places, development of policies, regulatory and legislative frameworks, implementation of relevant programmes and projects, as well as the establishment of relevant regulatory and enforcement agencies.
It said the ministry, in collaboration with stakeholders, will be marking this year’s event with a training workshop on hand hygiene and sanitation for students and teachers in the 6 Unity Schools in FCT, quiz competition on sanitation and hygiene practices for selected primary schools in FCT, community sensitization and hygiene practices for selected primary schools in FCT, community sensitization and awareness creation on handwashing, Global Handwashing Day Commemoration tomorrow, (October 15) at the Federal Unity School Apo, FCT and presentation of handwashing materials and equipment to schools.