By Tosin Kolade
No fewer than 1,000 school children have been trained to become hygiene heroes, to take the message of hand washing to their peers and family members towards a healthier and productive lives.
At an event to commemorate the 2018 Global Hand Washing Day in Abuja, Stakeholders said, imbibing the culture of hand washing at critical times could cut disease prevention by 50 per cent.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that investing in young person is an investment in the future.
Mr Lex Merlijn, Country Director, United Purpose, said the role behaviour change plays in hygiene promotion cannot be over-emphasised, saying the group has seen that young person have the tendency to effect change when given the opportunity.
He noted that the concept of hand washing should be propagated for everyone, saying that known diseases have been known to be transmitted by hands to the mouth.
According to him, using children as hygiene heroes are an integral part of the campaign, so that they can take the hand washing message to their peer and family.
“So far in 2018, we have reached 600 hygiene heroes in Agatu and Logo Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Benue and Yala LGA in Cross River State, in 2017, we reached 200 schools, 46,000 students and empowered 2,130 hygiene heroes.
“So far, we have covered 9 local government areas and empowered 1,800 hygiene heroes for the global Hand washing day.
“In 2018, we aimed to reach more people with the simple message of hand washing that can save lives and reduce hospital bills, so, we are urging everyone to make hand washing a habit.’’
Also, Mr Alex Goma, Managing Director, PZ, Cussons, noted that the simple message of `hand washing saves lives’, and would enable everyone around the world have the benefit of good health that comes with clean hands.
He said the event symbolises the need for inter-sectoral collaboration to meet the hygiene needs for all Nigerians, noting that this was in line with the goal of the organisation.
He also said that it could help fight under nutrition, keep kids healthy and in school.
Goma said it was also important for everyone to understand that disease prevention was far cheaper and cost-effective than cure, adding that with a culture of hand washing, a large number of illnesses could be prevented.
Earlier, Minister of Water Resources, Mr Suleiman Adamu, said the role hand washing plays in food and nutrition cannot be over-emphasised, adding that it was a recipe for good health.
Adamu, quoting the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster survey, said no fewer than 43.6 per cent of under-five children are moderately and stunted, saying this impairs growth and development.
“A study showed that the number of times a child’s hands were washed per day, and the use of soap, were two of seven independent predictors of stunting in under-five children.
“Adopting the behavior of hand washing with soap is adjudged as one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diseases, cutting deaths from acute respiratory infections by nearly one-quarter.’’
He added that the Federal Government has begun implementation of National Hygiene Promotion Strategy and Implementation Guidelines to garner stakeholder’s participation in improving access to hygiene in the country.
NAN reports that Global Handwashing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
Celebrated annually on October 15, Global Handwashing Day was founded by the Global Hand washing Psartnership, and is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.