Promoting a culture of hand washing through coordination at all levels

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Joseph Terlumun Utsev, Minister of Water Resources and Sanitation, has emphasised the imperative of ongoing collaboration among diverse stakeholders at every level to foster a hand hygiene culture throughout the nation.

“It is a rallying cry to establish dependable, resilient, and sustainable systems that facilitate hand hygiene routines in households, educational institutions, workplaces, healthcare facilities, and various community environments,” he expressed during the 2023 Global Handwashing Day celebration, themed “Clean Hands are within our Reach,” held recently in Abuja.

Utsev noted that the Federal Government has consistently demonstrated its dedication to promoting hygiene through initiatives such as the ‘Nigeria Roadmap to Hand Hygiene for All’, launched in 2022, which charts the course towards a sustainable hand hygiene culture.

He underscored the importance of providing conveniently accessible hand hygiene facilities, as their availability significantly influences people’s likelihood to use them. To that end, investment in hygiene infrastructure and products must be accelerated in schools, homes, healthcare facilities, and public spaces.

Read also; Institutionalize hand washing in primary schools- UNICEF

“These facilities should also be designed to cater to individuals with disabilities to ensure inclusivity. We must strive to eliminate existing disparities and inequalities in access while promoting effective hand washing through policy, programs, and advocacy at all levels.”

Achieving this will necessitate continuous funding, governmental leadership, support from development and private sector partners, input from researchers, and community-level engagement.

“The government has been prioritizing hygiene programming and allocating the necessary resources,” Utsev added.

While represented by Elizabeth Ugoh, Director of Water Quality Control and Sanitation at the ministry, Utsev noted that the inclusion of sanitation in the ministry’s name would address institutional shortcomings within the sector. He further pledged his dedication to driving enduring change in the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sector, asserting that collective effort from all stakeholders would elevate awareness of the importance of hand washing.

Read also; Only 4% of Nigerians practice handwashing at critical times – FG

The minister also committed to instigating the essential behavioural changes required for a healthier and economically viable nation.

In a goodwill message, Cassandra Uzo-Ogbugh, the External Communications and Partnership Lead at Reckitt Sub-Saharan Africa, underscored the significant impact of hand washing with soap in breaking the chain of infections.

“Hand washing can significantly reduce the risk of disease, yet many people around the world, including Nigeria, still lack access to basic hygiene services. Reckitt, through its Dettol brand, remains dedicated to ensuring that quality hygiene and health solutions are accessible to all.”

Read also; Dettol Nigeria joins FG to promote hand hygiene on handwashing day

The event also acknowledged Dettol’s unwavering commitment over the past nine years to improving hygiene practices among individuals of all ages and genders in Nigeria. Initiatives such as the “School Hygiene Quest Program” and the “New Mum’s Program” have played a pivotal role in instilling new hygiene habits, especially among students at various educational levels.

Dettol, alongside its valued partners, continues to make a lasting impact on the healthcare sector. With a goal of influencing at least six million individuals to adopt proper hygiene habits by 2025, Dettol has joined forces with the Wellbeing Foundation Africa to promote behavioral change regarding hygiene in communities across Nigeria.

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