The World Health Organisation (WHO) in conjunction with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the federal government of Nigeria have launched a National Roadmap on Hand Hygiene for All. The roadmap gives direction for collaborative efforts to implement the Sanitation and Hygiene programmes under the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 6).
At the public presentation in Abuja on Tuesday, Minister of Water Resources, Suleiman Adamu, said the National Roadmap identified strategic goals and opportunities for investments to improve hand hygiene. According to him, it provided actions across the three pillars of political leadership, enabling environment and inclusive programming at scale to increase supply and demand.
“The roadmap has laid out a path for maximising upcoming opportunities in the implementation of hand hygiene in homes, schools, healthcare facilities, among others. It will further increase the awareness of Nigerians on the developing initiative for inclusive hand hygiene in all human contexts of existence in Nigeria. Activities to realise these factors have been detailed to include short-term COVID-19 response needs to control the outbreak and medium-term activities to rebuild hand hygiene culture,’’ he said.
It is understood that the long-term approach called for sustenance of hand hygiene culture, adding that the impact of adequate hand washing cut across the whole SDGs agenda. He said this has the potential to improve healthcare outcomes and subsequently increase the progress regarding equity, education, and wash.
Also, the Director, Water Quality Control and Sanitation, Ministry of Water Resources, Emmanuel Awe, stressed the need for political leadership to build momentum in all tiers of government. Awe added that a strong enabling environment is crucial to strengthening systems for financing and developing policies in a sustainable manner. The UNICEF Deputy Representative, Ms Rushnan Murtaza, said the roadmap was a deliberate effort to guide the country in interventions that build on the government’s efforts in curtailing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Murtaza said the benefits of hand hygiene in preventing the transmission of infectious diseases were crucial, as it had been proven to reduce deaths from respiratory and diarrhoea diseases in under-fives.
She said to facilitate the implementation of this Roadmap, UNICEF supported the Market Assessment of Hygiene Products and Services in Nigeria.
“The report of this assessment is ready and will be widely circulated to facilitate efficient decision-making on sourcing hygiene products and services at all levels. I understand that the Clean Nigeria Campaign at the National level has already incorporated the core strategies of the hand hygiene for All Roadmap into their campaign strategies,” she said.
Murtaza urged all states and local government areas to key into the roadmap and integrate it with their state-specific open defecation free roadmaps. Also commenting, WHO Representative, Dr Edwin Isotu-Edeh, commended the Federal Government’s efforts in prioritising sanitation and hygiene through the campaign for hand hygiene.
“There is a huge gap in access to hand washing services among households in the country as reflected in the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Normal Routine Mapping report, as it stood at only 17%. There is need for behaviour change to inculcate hand washing as the first line of defence in breaking disease transmission,” Isotu-Edeh said.
He called for mainstreaming the roadmap into all development policies and programmes to help improve access to basic and improved sanitation and hygiene services sustainably.