The Director-General of the agency, Chikwe Ihekweazu, gave the advice during an awareness walk to commemorate the 2021 World Hand Hygiene Day in Abuja on Wednesday.
Represented by the Head of Prevention Programme & Knowledge Management Department of the agency, Chinwe Ochu, Mr Ihekweazu said good hand hygiene can save lives and prevent the transmission of infections.
“Hand hygiene with soap and water is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Hand cleanliness protects our lives they also save our lives! hand hygiene has become most important and relevant than ever,” he said.
Marked on May 5 annually, World Hand Hygiene Day aims to maintain global promotion, visibility and sustainability of hand hygiene in health care and to ‘bring people together’ in support of hand hygiene improvement around the world.
This year’s event is being commemorated at a time the world is still battling the COVID-19 pandemic which has already claimed over 3 million lives globally and 2,063 lives in Nigeria.
This year, the global Hand Hygiene Day theme is “Achieving hand hygiene at the point of care”, and the slogan is “Seconds save lives – clean your hands!”
The sub-theme for Nigeria is “One Nation, One Plan: Turn Nigeria Orange!”.
Good Hand hygiene
Mr Ihekweazu noted that good hand hygiene has been advocated as one of the most effective ways to prevent the COVID-19 diseases.
“Since 2019, NCDC through the National Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) programme has led the country’s efforts to make hand hygiene day activities a major national event in order to raise the consciousness of Nigerians on these efforts, and their role in saving lives,” he said.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic further exposed the risk of care-associated infections in low and middle-income countries, particularly in patients admitted to intensive care units.
In her welcome address, the Chairperson of Infection Prevention and Control Committee (IPCC), Nkoli Uwazurike, noted that hand hygiene could reduce major public health problem in Nigeria and has a significant impact in the fight against COVID-19.
Prioritising health workers
Speaking at the briefing, the Medical Director of the Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Jabi, Sa’ad Ahmed, reiterated that hand washing could help reduce the spread of diseases.
“As simple as hand washing is , it actually saves a lot of life. There is a circle of infection and and we need to break that circle through hand washing. Hand washing can save us a lot,” he said.
He noted that at the point of care, most health workers infect patients or get infected by patients, hence the need to promote hand hygiene.
In a message to mark the day, the World Health Organisation (WHO) calls on health care workers and facilities to achieve effective hand hygiene action at the point of care.
“The point of care refers to the place where three elements come together: the patient, the health care worker, and care or treatment involving contact with the patient or their surroundings,” it said.
The WHO slogan this year is ‘CLEAN HANDS SAVE LIVES.’