The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Wednesday advised Nigerians to use soap or ash and running water to wash hands after defecation to prevent infection and illness.
Mr Bioye Ogunjobi, a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Specialist with UNICEF, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Ogunjobi said that using water alone is not a proper hand washing technique as it could not totally clean the hand.
According to him, faeces is oily and cannot easily come off after using tissue paper or water to clean-up after defecation.
“Proper hand washing means using soap and running water. This is important because when you put water in a bowl to wash your hand, your hand will not be clean because the same dirty water is being used.
“In some rural communities, they use ash which is also a cleaning reagent. It works.
“Why it is important for you to use running water and soap after defecation is because faeces are oily and even when you use tissue paper or water to clean up, it will still stick to your fingers and it takes running water, soap or ash to take it out.
“Only water cannot take away faeces from your fingers. This is why we try to promote proper hand washing which is the use of soap or ash and running water and proper scrubbing of the hands, ” he said.
Ogunjobi said that lack of proper hand washing could cause various diseases such as diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and intestinal worm infections.
“People frequently touch their eyes, nose, and mouth without even realising it. Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth and make us sick.
“Diarrhea is the second largest killer of children in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, and there is a study that proper hand washing will reduce diarrhoea by about 48 per cent.
“Typhoid is also sanitation related and we have also had cases of cholera outbreaks in some states in Nigeria, especially during raining season. With proper handwashing, cases of cholera outbreaks and typhoid will reduce drastically.
“Worm infestation is also common among children. If we practice good sanitation such as proper hand washing after defecation, many diseases will be prevented, Ogunjobi said.