Water Sanitation Hygiene: Over 59,000 Children Die Annually – Minister
The Minister of Water Resources, Engineer Suleiman Adamu, has revealed that over 59,000 children under the age of five in Nigeria die every year due to poor water and sanitation.
The minister who stated this during a press conference to mark the occasion of the 2018 Global Handwashing Day at the ministry’s conference hall in Abuja said 87 percent of Nigerians according to the 2017 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme report, do not have access to handwashing facilities with soap and water. He added that globally, 272 million school days are missed due to diarrhea infection each year. He however stated that cultivating a good handwashing habit can help keep students healthy, ready to learn and can also help fight under nutrition.
The Global Handwashing Day is celebrated October 15 of every year since 2008 when it was adopted by the UN General Assembly. It is a global advocacy day dedicated to increase the awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases.
According to Adamu, “Handwashing with soap is an important part of keeping food safe and preventing diseases. It not only helps people improve their health, it also removes barriers to economic opportunity, allows children to grow and helps strengthen communities. Handwashing with soap can be considered as an affordable, accessible ‘do-it-yourself’ vaccine for sanitation and hygiene related diseases like diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever and pneumonia which are prevalent in our communities. It is estimated to cut deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by a quarter. It also helps to ensure the sustenance efforts to end Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) such river blindness, lymphatic filariasis, onchocerciasis, soil transmitted helminthes and schistosomiasis.”
The minister added that handwashing with soap is an essential factor of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 6 for Water and Sanitation which he said is target to achieve success to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation, paying special attention to the needs of women and girls and those in vulnerable situations. He stated that the absence of WASH facilities, including handwashing stations in schools, health care facilities and work places is an equity issue for girls and women, particularly for menstrual hygiene management.
Stakeholders at the event dwelled on the importance of sanitation awareness programme that will stop the spread of water-borne diseases and called for state governments’ involvement to complement the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Water Resources. They agree that water sanitation and hygiene is very critical especially now that flood is ravaging some parts of the country and contaminating source of water to the people.