The Minister of Water Resources, Engr. Suleiman Adamu, on Thursday, said over 59,000 Nigeria children under the age of five die annually from preventable water and sanitation related diseases.
At a news conference to commemorate the 2017 Global Hand washing Day in Abuja, the Minister noted that washing with soap before eating and after using toilet could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention.
He, however, regretted that 87 percent of Nigerians do not have access to hand washing facilities with soap and water available.
The Minister, who spoke through the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Dr. Musa Ibrahim, quoted the recently launched Nigeria WASH Diagnostic Report which indicates that 69 percent of public health facilities do not have access to a basic functioning hand hygiene station.
While calling for the strengthening of the nation’s healthcare systems through good hand hygiene, especially during medical procedure, the minister noted that 15 percent of patients globally develop one or more infections in hospital according to the 2015 reports of the World Health Organisation.
The minister, who said cultivating a good hand washing habit can help keep students healthy, also quoted a UNICEF report which says 272 million school days are missed due to diarrhea infection each year.
He said series of events which include hygiene promotion training for teachers, community health workers among others have been lined up to mark the Day, which, he said, aimed at engaging children as agents of change and create awareness on the adoption of habit of washing hands at critical times.
The United Nations General Assembly had in 2008 adopted every October 15 to mark the Day globally.