Tim Kellow, Country Director of Concern Universal, an NGO, has urged Nigerians to wash their hands with soap at critical times, saying it reduces diarrhoea related deaths by 30 per cent.
Kellow told the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja on Wednesday that no fewer than 150,000 children die from diarrhoea diseases caused by poor hygiene practices in the country.
According to him, imbibing hand washing culture is more cost effective than treating water sources or water point-of-use.
He said the group was implementing sanitation and hygiene project in Nigeria, which aims at empowering no fewer than two million rural people to sustainably improve their sanitation practices.
This, he said, would go a long way to secure human dignity for everyone in such communities.
The country director said three local governments each in Benue and Cross River States were benefitting from the project, with the sole target of ending open defecation in the country.
Kellow said hygiene was the most important intervention for human development, saying this should be encouraged by everyone in its entirety.
He said through the Community Led Total Sanitation programme, more people have been encouraged to change their behavioural practices towards hygiene promotion.
Those people, also called “natural leaders”, he said, act as activists and enthusiasts that drive sanitation and hygiene improvements in the communities.
He said: “They act as environmental and health officers to their communities.
“They go about telling people about the dangers of open defecation and others.”
Kellow said it was a matter of regret that Nigeria was still lagging behind in achieving improved access to basic sanitation and hygiene.
He, therefore, called for more awareness to enable more Nigerians to be accustomed to the benefits of hygiene and sanitation, saying this was necessary to reducing preventable deaths.
Kellow also emphasised the role of parents in educating their children and wards on the importance of washing their hands after going to toilets and before eating.
He stressed the need for private individuals and industrialists to take ownership of sanitation in their local communities.
Kellow noted that this would go a long way in reducing the spread of preventable diseases.
He said it will also boost healthy living, thereby making the populace to be more productive towards increasing the nation’s prosperity.
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.