By Victor Akaa and Gift Dinefu
In commemoration of the 2019 global handwashing day, Africare Nigeria through its Power Foward project sensitized hundreds of students in Abuja on hand hygiene culture as part of efforts to prevent diseases and promote well-being in Nigeria.
The commemoration which held at Government secondary school (GSS) Kubwa and Government Secondary School Mpape and other schools with the theme “clean hands for all”, was a student-led activity where selected students educated their peers with practical steps on hand hygiene.
The students expressed concern over the poor hand washing culture among Nigerians, while noting that most diseases is as a result of poor hand hygiene.
They also noted that most Nigerians only wash their hands when they want to eat which is often done haphazardly and stressed that a healthy lifestyle involves good hand hygiene habit which should be done thoroughly in seven steps.
Isaiah Prescious, an SS3 student while instructing her peers on the seven steps to follow in washing their hands, said it’s important for them to to wash their hands because most germs hide in them and finally enters their body when they eat with it.
Precious recalled that the importance of hand hygiene was best appreciated during the Ebola outbreak when Nigerians became cautious of keeping a clean hand to avoid contacting the disease.
Another SS3 student, Sonna Ekwegh said the global handwashing day is very significant as it increases the awareness of handwashing among students in order to prevent diseases. He added that students will perform better academically when they are healthy.
“If you are are sick you can’t come to school or attend classes, but when you are healthy it boosts academic productivity”, he said.
Similarly, Ike Olivia Olivia, an SS2 student said the activity has enlightened her on the importance of washing her hands thoroughly and she expressed readiness to step down the knowledge.
She said, “I’ve learnt how to wash my hands before and after eating. I also learnt that when you don’t wash your hands you contact germs easily. Before now, I don’t wash my hands regularly or thoroughly, but henceforth I will do so and also teach my other friends.
The Principal of the school, Mr Musa Nuhu Zuru while expressing his gratitude to Africare, ExxonMobil and the National Basketball Association (NBA) for the activity, urged the students to put the knowledge they’ve gotten into good use and also make good use of the handwashing station which was built under the Power Forward project.
“I want to thank this Organization for this, because there are technicalities on how to wash your hands, this is a rare privilege to know this”, he said.
In the same vein, the principal of Government Secondary School Mpape, Okhuosami S. Abdullahi, expressed immense gratitude to Africare, ExxonMobil and NBA for Power Forward project which according to him has greatly impacted the lives of students by exposing them to public health activities like; the global hand wash day.
He added that the program has enlightened students on the importance of health care, personal hygiene and the training of leadership skills.
The Principal also thanked the project partners for building infrastructures like the hand wash station erected in the school and encouraging the washing of hands as demonstrated during the Hand Wash Day event further increasing personal hygiene among students as they use the hand wash station.
Mr Terfa Akpoyibo, Project Manager, Power Forward, explained that the commemoration of the global handwashing day in the schools is to re-inforce the need and importance for young Nigerians to imbibe the culture of handwashing.
Akpoyibo stated that the Power Foward project has built 20 hand wash stations for the schools to encourage sustained practice.
He said, “The signifance of the global handwashing day is for us to continue to reemphasize the need for us to wash our hands, because the simple washing of hands prevents a whole lot of diseases that would be spending money to treat. Like the saying goes prevention is better than cure.
“The project has built the hand wash station for the school to encourage students because Clean hands equals to health”, he added.
Global handwashing day is marked every 15th October globally.