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World Hand-washing Day: Nearly 60,000 under-five children die of diarrhoea in Nigeria yearly


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Not fewer than 59,500 children under five in Nigeria die every year because of diarrhoea which is caused by dirty water, poor toilets and poor hygiene, according to WaterAid Nigeria.

Oluseyi Abdulmalik, Communications Officer of WaterAid Nigeria who released a statement yesterday to commemorate the global hand washing day emphasized the need to practice regular handwashing.

October 15 marks the World Handwashing day which is celebrated every year to promote proper hand hygiene.

WaterAid Nigeria has revealed that about 157 million Nigerians lack access to hand washing facilities and only 16 per cent of Nigerian hospitals have facilities within their premises to dispense clean water.

According to Abdulmalik,  handwashing is likely to reduce the chances of diarrheal infections from between 27 – 48 per cent, and drinking clean water puts the risk of diarrhoea infection to the barest minimum.

She enjoined citizens to extract a pledge from candidates in the next election to support WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) access in order to achieve a healthy environment and country.

According to her, washing hands with soap and water puts everyone on the safe side but around the world, only 19 per cent of people wash hands with soap after defecation. She maintained that the government needs to promote handwashing and good hygiene in order to save lives.

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The Country Director, WaterAid Nigeria Dr Chi Chi Aniagolu-Okoye advised on personal hygiene and regular consumption of a healthy diet.

This would ensure that the health of a child is not compromised, she said.

“Hand washing with soap and good food hygiene will benefit everyone health wise and economically. Essentially, hand washing with soap for health workers is compulsory to improve the quality of care and reduce the risk of cross infection to make our children healthier.”

“We are advocating alongside our partners, Action Against Hunger to demand that governments should develop cross-ministerial coordination mechanisms between WASH (Water Sanitation and Hygiene) and the nutrition sector to support sharing of information, joint planning and implementation of policies,” she concluded.

Experts have advised  that Nigerians should wash hands after:

  • Handling food
  • Changing a nappy or going to the toilet
  • Contact with body fluids (blood, saliva, vomit, etc.)
  • Handling animals and pets
  • Emptying the bin
  • Being in the garden


Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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