As our world continues to evolve, the need for heightened hygiene practices has become increasingly apparent.
The growth of developing nations, both in population and other aspects, has underscored the importance of improving sanitation and public health.
Yet, for many of these nations, like Nigeria, maintaining high levels of hygiene in communities and cities remains a formidable challenge.
This struggle is particularly significant in the context of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), where Nigeria faces obstacles in meeting these global objectives.
As we celebrate Global Handwashing Day, every October 15th, it is paramount to recognize the pivotal role hand hygiene plays in safeguarding society’s collective well-being.
The importance of cultivating proper handwashing etiquette has become a clarion call for various health and hygiene organisations, like Reckitt Nigeria.
Being a practice that transcends beyond cultural barriers and languages, proper handwashing practices have been shown to curb several infectious diseases. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), raising awareness about the importance of handwashing in communities has significantly reduced diarrhoea by 23-40 per cent.
Further, this decreased diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58 per cent.
Such awareness has led to a reduction in respiratory illness in the general population by 16-21 per cent and gastrointestinal illness in school children by 29-57 per cent.
In light of this, Reckitt Nigeria has continued to foster the importance of hand hygiene through hygiene-focused partnerships and initiatives through its foremost brand, Dettol Nigeria. Dettol has highlighted the importance of hand hygiene in fostering the public and collective health of the nation as a whole.
The commemoration of the GWHD serves as Dettol’s call to action of integrating hand hygiene into our daily routines, as it helps promote significant positive behavioural changes.
Additionally, the brand aligns its activities with this year’s theme —’Clean Hands are Within Reach’— by constructing a solar-powered borehole and water station in Area J4, Omo Forest Reserve, Ogun State.
More so, understanding that partnerships are at the core of sustainable progress in the collective health of the nation, Dettol’s ‘Clean Naija’ initiative, a long-term partnership with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources since 2019, has been a nationwide hygiene program crafted to raise awareness and educate the public about the significance of employing proper handwashing techniques.
Dettol aims to achieve a 10 per cent drop in diarrhoea cases, as well as reduce school absenteeism by 10 per cent in 2025, through the adequate empowerment of millions of school children in good hygiene and proper handwashing etiquette vis-a-vis the ‘Hygiene Quest Curriculum’.
In 2022, Dettol partnered the Wellbeing Foundation Africa (WBFA) to accelerate the Hygiene Quest Program in Lagos, Abuja and Kwara. The impact endline assessment showed a 31.9 per cent increase in knowledge of handwashing among schoolchildren, a significant 40.9 per cent rise in the practice of handwashing and hygiene among community members, and a remarkable 38.6 per cent increase in hygiene knowledge among pregnant women in healthcare facilities.
These outcomes underscore the profound positive impacts of this intervention.
A look back at Dettol’s legacy reveals a consistent and passionate drive over the past 50 years, inspiring public health campaigns to revolutionise hygiene habits among Nigerians of all ages and genders.
Handwashing, over the years, has evolved into a pivotal tool to save lives and alleviate diseases. Through strategic partnerships and symbolic initiatives, we can create a purposeful future with clean hands.