2022 Global Handwashing Day: Better hygiene facilities are needed to combat disease – Sightsavers


By John Osaisotie

International development organisation, Sightsavers has called on governments, organisations, donors, and communities to improve access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, services as means to reducing and eventual elimination of Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTDs.

In a press release issued today by its Head of Media, Joy Tarbo, to commemorate the 2022 Global Handwashing Day, the organisation stated that handwashing with soap was critical in the fight against infectious diseases, including NTDs, and COVID-19 noting that, “yet only 16 per cent of Nigerians have access to basic handwashing facilities at home – leaving families and communities at risk of infectious diseases, with children particularly vulnerable.”

The statement revealed that globally, around three in 10 people – or 2.3 billion – do not have handwashing facilities with water and soap available at home.

“In Nigeria, 21 per cent of Nigerians had access to basic handwashing facilities at home in 2018, compared to 16 per cent in 2019, indicating a worrying downward trend1.
As a result, Sightsavers has joined forces with the Federal Ministry of Health and other partners to promote the need for improving access to hygiene services,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, National Coordinator Clean Nigeria Campaign, Federal Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs Chizoma Opara said: “Hand hygiene is critical to our lives, we need to make hand washing a habit. Nigeria has developed a roadmap for hand hygiene, and we want to see increased intersectoral collaboration for hand hygiene.”

Also the Country Director, Sightsavers Dr Sunday Isiyaku said; “Increasing access to WASH services in our communities and prioritising delivery of services based on the needs of each community in the intervention units is key in improving hand hygiene practices and vital for the control and elimination of NTDs.”

Sightsavers disclosed that in Nigeria, many activities were expected to be held across the country to commemorate Global Handwashing Day, drawing the attention of governments and policy makers to invest in improved hygiene services and reduce the burden of disease spread.

“In partnership with the Federal Ministry of Water resources, Sightsavers Nigeria is part of a series of activities focused on drawing attention to the importance of handwashing with handwashing demonstration and educating the public through posters, radio jingles and radio/TV talk shows.

“Large inequalities in access to WASH continue to persist at least two billion people rely on water supplies that are unsafe; 673 million practice open defecation, and an estimated 3 billion people have no access to basic handwashing facilities1 to practice personal hygiene.

“The need for a joint WASH/NTD initiative became evident after the publication of the first NTD road map in 2012. This led to the publication, in 2015, of the first strategy and action plan2 that provided a framework for collaboration and joint planning, delivery and evaluation of programmes.

“Currently, several countries plan to set up new coordination systems, and strive to increase the availability and quality of data on WASH and NTDs, to ensure that WASH services are directed at the communities in greatest need3,” Sightsavers explained.

Also, Dr Teyil Wamyil Mshelia, Country Coordinator, Trachoma at Sightsavers, said: “through strengthening collaboration between NTDs and WASH especially at the local government areas, we will begin to see more prioritised engagements and behaviour change leading to better hand hygiene and face washing and other hygiene management practices to reduce the impact diseases.”