The Dangote Foundation has promised to step up its advocacy campaign against preventable diseases in the country.
This followed a report that an estimated 124,000 children under the age of four years are dying annually due to poor sanitation,
The foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Mrs. Zuoera Youssoufou, gave this promise in a message she sent to the Community Staff School, venue of the demonstration of the United Nation’s Global Hand Washing Day observed in Abuja in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources and other organisations like the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) and Water Aids.
She lamented that Nigeria was still contributing so much to the number of children deaths recorded globally, owing to poor sanitation and described the situation as unacceptable.
Mrs. Youssoufou stated that the foundation had already planned to scale up it advocacy and intervention in the preventable deaths, owing to equally preventable diseases such as poor sanitation, hunger and malnutrition, diarrhoea, cholera and dysentery.
The Foundation boss explained that it was in realisation of the factor of hygiene and good sanitation in the prevention of these avoidable deaths that made the United Nation to set aside a day to mark the Hand Washing Day to demonstrate and encourage the children on the need to always wash their hands and maintain good sanitation so as to stay healthy.
She said a situation where the nation is losing her children to preventable deaths would not augur well for the development of the country in future because the rank of the children on whose shoulders the task of the development lie would have been depleted.
Said she: “Children are change agents and that is why we have to target them to ensure they stay healthy for the betterment of our society. Our partnership with the Federal Ministry of Water resources on this demonstration of globally accepted hand washing methods was in furtherance of our believe in focusing more on the health of our children.”
The ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr. Musa Istifanus, said the hand washing campaign was introduced to reduce childhood mortality rates relating to respiratory, diarrhoea and other related diseases by introducing simple behavioural change of hand wash with soap.
The UNICEF Country Representative, Kannan Nadar, pointed out that a survey carried out recently indicated that in six states, 53 per cent of the children don’t wash hands after defecation, which, he said, was “a great disincentive to the campaign for proper sanitation among the children”.