According to the 2015 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme Progress on sanitation and drinking water, one in three people or 2.4 billion people lacked access to water and sanitation facilities globally.
The report showed that no fewer than 1,000 under-five children die each day from diarrhoea caused by inadequate water, sanitation and hygiene compared to over 2, 000 children, 15 years ago.
Though Nigeria lacks accurate statistics on the number of persons that die because of poor handwashing hygiene, it is obvious that she may rank among the nations with high number of casualties going by the reported cases of diarrhoea and environmental health related problem.
Against this background, the Federal Government readily enlisted in the global war against preventable death that could arise from poor handwashing habit. The World Health Organisation, WHO, had muted a day for nations to conscientise its citizens on the crucial essence of observing healthy handwashing habit.
Thus, every year, the world observes October 15 as a Global Handwashing Day, GHD, it is a day set aside to motivate and mobilise people around the world on the importance of cultivating and sustaining the habit of washing their hands daily with soaps.
This year’s theme, `Raise a Hand for Hygiene’, clearly emphasised the essence of staying alive by adopting a seemingly simple measure: hand washing. It further stressed the need for all stakeholders to take a stand on hand washing, as a means to stop preventable deaths.
At the seminar where various speakers addressed the issue at stake, the common adage that health is wealth and it can only be achieved through cleanliness which begins with ones hands, was consistently emphasised.
Health experts, who took turns to speak said, because our hands daily come in contact with germs largely due to what our hands come in contact with. Many of the things our hands touch do end up in our mouth, and which makes it quite important to engage in hand washing and thus reduce the dangers of contacting germs by 99percent.
In hospitals, health workers are often seen washing their hands with disinfectant and sometimes with soaps after administering treatment to patients which demonstrates the importance of hand washing to an individual.
Not forgetting during the Ebola outbreak, the importance of hand washing with disinfectants, sanitizers was emphasized which was introduced to schools, offices, companies etc.
Health workers emphasized the need to wash always especially before and after cooking, before and after eating because a quick rinse do not just minimize germs, but the use of soap as it is a part of cleansing any time one comes in contact with dirty particles.
It would be recalled that the year 2008 was the first Global Handwashing Day when over 12 0 million children around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries and since then, community and national leaders have used Global Handwashing Day to spread the word about hand washing, build sinks and tippy taps, and demonstrate the simplicity and value of clean hands.
Each year, over 200 million people are involved in celebrations in over 100 countries around the world.
Global Handwashing Day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organisations, NGOs, private companies, and individuals.
Chief Executive of Uni-Gloves Medical, Mr. Kevin Onah, said currently, compliance with recommended hand hygiene practices is still very poor.
“Careful hand hygiene in medical field is set to become even more important in the future in the provision of high quality patient care. In addition to this, many health care workers do not wash their hands after “low-risk” patient contacts, probably because they are not aware that their hands may become contaminated while measuring the patient’s blood pressure or pulse, touching intact areas of the patient’s skin or lifting the patient. Such health care workers complain of skin irritation and dryness as a result of constant handwashing.
“In Nigeria, it has been observed that mortality related to hospital acquired infections could be reduced when health care personnel wash and disinfect their hands with antiseptic solution before they make contact with patients, as well as adherence to stringent compliance of health care workers with recommended handwashing practices,” he explained.
Onah said statutory regulations play a key role in addition to the overall increased awareness of the importance of hygiene among the Nigerian population. “Hand hygiene prevents cross-infection in hospitals, but compliance with recommended instructions is often poor even among healthcare workers.
“Easy access to hand hygiene in a timely fashion and the availability of skin-care lotion both appear to be necessary pre-requisites for appropriate hand-hygiene behaviour. In particular, in high-demand situations, hand rub with an alcohol-based solution appears to be the only alternative that allows a decent compliance,” he added.
He said that the hand-hygiene compliance level does not rely on individual factors alone, and the same can be said for its promotion.
“Because of the complexity of the process of change, it is not surprising that solo interventions often fail, and multimodal, multidisciplinary strategies are necessary. Framework:
“A framework that includes parameters to be considered for hand-hygiene promotion is proposed, based on epidemiologically driven evidence and review of the current knowledge.”
Onah said strategies for promotion in hospitals should include reasons for non-compliance with recommendations at individual, group, and institutional levels. Potential tools for change are meant to address each of these elements and consider their interactivity.
“As a result of this and taking into account higher demands on careful hand hygiene in medical facilities, Unigloves Medical came up with hygiene compliance solutions.“
The idea behind these solutions is to offer users a comprehensive coordinated total concept to achieve their hygiene goals rather than simply offering individual products.
“These solutions include permanent emergency lever soap and disinfectant dispensers, hygiene stations, which have disinfection stand with disinfectant dispenser and bracket system for glove dispenser without dispenser wall plate.”
Just recently, the Federal Ministry of Water Resources declared that October 15, a hand washing sensitisation campaign will be held in Community Secondary School, Asokoro, Abuja, to commemorate the 2015 Global Hand washing Day.
The Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation with the Ministry, Mr. Samuel Ome said the campaign would be carried out in partnership with the National Task Group on Sanitation.
Ome said since 2008, when Nigeria joined the international community to commemorate the day, it has aimed at raising awareness on the importance of hand washing, particularly among the impression segment of the population.
He said hand washing with soap and water was a means of reducing the incidences of diarrhoea, which affects mostly under-five years of age children.
He, however, urged all Nigerians to inculcate the culture of hand washing, saying this would go a long way to reduce preventable deaths.
“The Global Hand washing Day is celebrated every October 15, to draw attention to the importance of hand washing with this year’s theme `Raise a Hand for Hygiene’, stresses the need for all stakeholders to take a stand on hand washing, as a means to stop preventable deaths.”


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