As Nigerians joined the rest of the world to celebrate the 2022 Global Handwashing Day, an annual event commemorated on 15 October, a group of pharmacists under the aegis of Association of Public Health Pharmacists of Nigeria (APHePoN), has advised Nigerians to be involved in the process of stemming the tide in disease spread by cultivating the practice of regular and proper handwashing.
According to Dr Arinola Joda, an associate professor, at the Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Biopharmacy, Faculty of Pharmacy, University of Lagos and a Fellow of the West African Postgraduate College of Pharmacists (WAPCP), this year’s theme, “Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene”, calls on all members of the society to work together as we scale up hand hygiene which reminds us that we are united in our vision for universal access and practice of hand hygiene.
Speaking during an awareness rally organised by the Lagos Chapter of the association to mark this year’s Global Handwashing Day, Joda, who is also the national secretary, (APHePoN), noted that handwashing has become quite popular after the Covid-19 pandemic. “And to make handwashing a habit, there is a day dedicated to it; Global Handwashing Day.
“The significance of what we are doing here today is that today being the global handwashing day, it is significant for us to create awareness about handwashing. We know that COVID-19 prevention also centred around handwashing and it was the normal practice during the days of the pandemic, but we are telling people that handwashing is still very much important as there are other various illnesses that could be prevented through proper and regular handwashing, so the cleaner our hands are, the better our health”, she said.
The university don further noted that the association is a group of public health professionals in the pharmacy space that create awareness and do public health activities around maintaining the health of the public, adding that pharmacists are doing quite a lot already in terms of preventing ill health, but can do more by focusing on the health of the public as they will be able to maintain health on a national scale.
Also speaking, the State Coordinator, APHePoN, Dr Olubusola Olugbake, a lecturer at the University of Lagos (UNILAG), stated that the association organised the awareness rally which started at the main gate of the National Stadium, Surulere and terminated at the popular Ojuelegba Under Bridge to promote handwashing with soap and water as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent disease and save lives as well as to identify with the WHO to commemorate this year’s Global Handwashing Day.
“When handwashing with soap is practised at key moments, such as after using the toilet or before eating, it can dramatically reduce the risk of contracting germs, which can cause serious illness and possibly death. Handwashing with soap also helps prevent the spread of other infections and viruses.
Her words, “We have opened their understanding to the fact that handwashing is not an exercise, it is a compulsory routine and there are about seven steps to proper handwashing. Our message is clear and it is to tell them that it is important that their hands are clean always, so every Nigerian should realise that germs are the cause of infections and the only way one can get rid of them is through proper handwashing”.
“The seven steps include, wet your hands, use soap, using palm, between fingers, fingernails, back of hands, wrists, and rinse the hands, as hand washing is a cycle”, she said.
Speaking in the same vein, Pharm. Abiola Paul-Ozieh, assistant coordinator, APHePoN, Lagos State Chapter, stressed the importance of regular handwashing in reducing disease burden, adding that the activities of the association towards the commemoration of the Global Handwashing Day was to promote good hygiene as a key approach to prevention of diseases.
We are here at Ojuelegba under the bridge today to demonstrate to the populace how to wash their hands. We want to tell them that as pharmacists, we are not only concerned about producing, dispensing and counselling on the drugs but also about the healthier living of the populace. Also to tell them that by reducing the rate at which we transfer germs, we will reduce the rate at which wait in the queue to see the medics and other healthcare practitioners.
Paul-Ozieh, a former chairman, of the Association of Community Pharmacists of Nigeria (ACPN), however, tasked the Federal Government to ease the burden of the populace by the provision of basic amenities including portable and drinkable water, adding that government has a lot to do in the aspect of awareness creation and sensitization.