Handwashing Habit can Save Nigeria from 150,000 Annual Deaths – Epidemiologist

An epidemiologist with the Ondo State Government, Dr Stephen Fagbemi, has reiterated the need for Nigerians to cultivate the habit of washing their hands regularly, saying it was capable of saving the country from a lot of diseases.   Fagbemi, in an interview with our correspondent, said diseases, such as malaria, diarrhoea, hepatitis A, cholera, typhoid, and measles could be avoided by regular handwashing.  

An international non-governmental organisation focused on water, sanitation, and hygiene, WaterAid, in its 2018 report, said 150,000 annual deaths in Nigeria were caused by poor handwashing and simple hygiene habits.  

“The first thing is to create awareness. Sometimes people need to know that it is the simple things that save lives, but when things are so simple we often overlook them. Handwashing is a habit that people should cultivate right from home. Regular handwashing after visiting the toilet and after holding currency notes could go a long way in keeping people healthy.  

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

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 practicing regular handwashing 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.  

“Apart from educating the people, we should ensure there are handwashing spaces in public spaces. When the facilities are available it is easy to encourage people to imbibe the habit. Many diseases could be prevented by simple handwashing habits,” Fagbemi said.

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