Why Nigerians Must Make Regular Hand-washing An Essential Habit 

Hand washing is the act of cleaning one’s hands with the use of any liquid with or without soap for the purpose of removing dirt or microorganisms.

As we all know, microorganisms that are capable of causing infectious diseases are all around us. They can even be found on things and places we think are the cleanest. If our immune system drops, these pathogens may enter our system and may cause serious illnesses and even death.

Unfortunately, hand-washing is a habit many Nigerian adults and kids don’t cultivate right from home.

In light of this, an Epidemiologist with the Ondo State Government, Dr. Stephen Fagbemi, has reiterated the need for Nigerians to cultivate regular hand-washing habit, saying it was capable of saving the country from a lot of diseases.

In an interview with PUNCH, Dr. Fagbemi said diseases like malaria, diarrhoea, hepatitis A, cholera, typhoid, and measles can be avoided by simple regular hand washing habits.

An international non-governmental organisation focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene, WaterAid, in its 2018 report said that 150,000 annual deaths in Nigeria were a result of poor wash facilities and simple hygiene habits. The specialist added:

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“The first thing is to create awareness, sometimes people need to know that it is the simple things that save a lot of time, but when things are so simple we often overlook them.

Hand washing is a habit that people should cultivate right from home. Regular hand washing after toilet, after holding currency can go a long way in keeping people healthy.

People should be enlightened that to properly wash their hands with soap and water; the front of the hands, the back of the hands, in between the fingers needs to be thoroughly washed then air dried it. They should also avoid sharing towels and handkerchiefs with people.”

The Epidemiologist also urged parents to create a culture of hand washing at home by being good examples to their children so that as the child is growing up, he or she will live with the consciousness that not practising regular hand washing could expose him or her to germs which could also affect his or her health.

He called on the government and other stakeholders to ensure that public spaces should have access to running water which would enhance the hand washing habit.

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“Apart from educating the people, we should ensure there are hand washing spaces in public spaces. When the facilities are available it is easy to encourage people to imbibe the habit.

Many diseases can be prevented by simple hand washing habits. It is not about sanctioning, because when you force people to do it, the desired result will not be achieved.”

Speaking at the unveiling of Dettol’s Clean Naija initiative, General Manager, Reckitt Benckiser, Mr Dayanand Sriram, said hand washing was critical for a healthy life, stressing that Nigeria will save a lot of lives if the habit is imbibed.

Sriram advised Nigerians to engage in regular and proper hand washing after using the toilet and after touching money.

He said the lacking of hand washing habit has left many with germ-filled hands, making people to be prone to preventable diseases such as diarrhoea, and other severe infections.

Basic Hand washing Process:

  • Begin by rinsing the hands with running water. It does not matter if it is cold or warm.
  • Lather the hands with soap, ensuring that the hands are covered thoroughly. It is essential to include the backs of the hands and the spaces underneath the nails.
  • For 20 seconds, scrub the hands together. If your child needs a timer, have them sing or hum their favorite song twice.
  • Next, rinse the hands beneath running water.
  • Finally, dry the hands with a towel.

When Hand washing is the Most Important:

  • Before or after cooking activities
  • After interacting with garbage or the garbage can
  • Before mealtime
  • After going to the bathroom
  • After interacting with their sibling’s diaper
  • Before and after the treatment of a scrape or cut
  • Helping take care of their sick brother or sister
  • After blowing or picking their nose
  • After playing with a pet or their waste

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