Minister of State for Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor has said access to sanitation and hygiene is not only a fundamental human right that safeguards public health and human dignity, but also a critical step in disease prevention and control.
The minister made this statement on Thursday as Nigeria joins the rest of the world to commemorate the 2021 Global Handwashing Day.
The World Hand Washing Day celebrated on the 15th of October annually 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 in meeting Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3 and 6.
The Minister said: “Addressing sanitation and hygiene challenges in the country is a necessary and a worthwhile investment for government at all levels. Therefore, I want to use this opportunity to call on Nigerians especially those in authority (Public or Private) to ensure adequate provision for sanitation and hygiene including handwashing facilities.”
She emphasized that the advent of COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating global effect provides an important reminder that hand hygiene is a fundamental component of health and safety, and therefore called on countries to start planning for the future as they continue to strengthen their COVID-19 response and accelerate their pace for full recovery, a move that will reduce vulnerability to new outbreaks and help countries control diarrheal and respiratory diseases.
A statement from the Ministry of Environment said hand washing is a simple, cost-effective and yet very impactful intervention to significantly improve the health, education, social and economic status of our dear country. The hand must be washed as much as practically possible.
The statement further said in this regard, the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with stakeholders has over the years taken steps to deliver adequate sanitation and hygiene services to the citizenry which include but are not limited to: 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.
According to the statement, the ministry in collaboration with stakeholders will be marking this year’s Global Handwashing Day with activities such as Training Workshop on Hand Hygiene and sanitation for students and teachers in the six 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 on Friday 15th October 2021 at Federal Unity School Apo FCT and presentation of handwashing materials and equipment to schools.