By Palma Ileye
International Development Organisation, Sightsavers Nigeria has harped on the importance of good hygiene practices and disease prevention.
This is advocay was contained in a press release issued yesterday by Sightsavers, Communication Associate, Joy Tarbo to commemorate this year’s Global Handwashing Day.
According to the statement, this Global Handwashing Day, 15 October, Sightsavers is calling on all stakeholders in the Nigerian health sector, particularly the government and professional bodies, to rise to the challenge and meet the demand for hygiene services in the country.
It stated that clean hands and faces play a crucial role in preventing trachoma, a contagious eye infection that can lead to blindness if left untreated.
It disclosed that Trachoma is primarily spread through contact with contaminated hands and faces, as well as by flies that transfer the bacteria responsible for the disease stressing that regularly washing hands and faces with clean water and soap helps remove the bacteria and reduce the risk of transmission.
“By maintaining good hygiene practices, individuals can significantly contribute to the prevention of trachoma and protect their vision, especially in regions where the disease is endemic.
“Sightsavers is thrilled to join the global community in marking the 2023 Global Handwashing Day. This annual event underscores the critical importance of hand hygiene in preventing the spread of diseases and improving overall public health,” the statement noted.
Country Director of Sightsavers, Dr Sunday Isiyaku said: “Promoting good hand hygiene is an essential component of our mission to eliminate Neglected Tropical Diseases, NTD.”
“Sightsavers will continue to support the collaboration of the Federal Ministry of Health and WASH partners through its Face cleanliness and Environmental sustainability approach of the “SAFE” strategy to support behaviour change across states. On this Global Handwashing Day, we emphasize the importance of clean hands in reducing the transmission of diseases.
“Without clean water and soap, it is difficult to implement simple and effective public health actions that can prevent and manage debilitating Neglected Tropical Diseases: hand and face-washing for trachoma, a disease which leads to painful, irreversible blindness; limb-washing for lymphatic filariasis, in which worms invade the lymph system and cause severe oedema, especially of the legs; wound-washing for rabies, where cleaning the lesion thoroughly after a dog-bite can decrease the chances of infection by the virus from canine saliva; and hand-washing for intestinal worms, whose eggs are ingested with unclean food,” it explained.
Country Coordinator, Trachoma at Sightsavers, Dr Teyil Wamyil-Mshelia said: “Through strengthening collaboration between Neglected Tropical Diseases and Water Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, especially at the local government areas, we will begin to see more prioritised engagements and behaviour change. This should improve hand and face washing, and other hygiene practices, to reduce the impact of trachoma and other NTDs.”
With the theme for this year’s Global Handwashing Day being “Clean Hands for All,” Sightsavers Nigeria has reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that no one is left behind in access to good hygiene practices, regardless of their abilities or socio-economic status.
Adding that, clean hands and faces were fundamental in preventing eye infections and blindness, particularly in communities with limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities.