WODASS urges Bauchi state government, LGAs to widen behavioral change campaign on hygiene

By Samuel Luka, Bauchi

A Non-Governmental Organization known as Women Development Association for Self Sustenance (WODASS) has appealed to the Bauchi state government and the local governments to work towards widening the scope of hygiene behavior change among the citizens.

The program Coordinator of the NGO, Mr. Ezekiel Sukumun made the appeal while addressing a press conference at the Bauchi state Secretariat with the topic: ‘improving response to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases in Bauchi state through hygiene behavior change’ on Tuesday.

Mr. Sukumun said that Bauchi state is currently performing below average in the provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) despite the good hygiene practices recommended as the first line of defence in the prevention of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

“Bauchi State Government and Local Governments should widen the scope of the hygiene behavior change campaign to include hygiene
focuses on key behaviors such as respiratory hygiene, hand-washing, physical
excreta disposal, water storage and COVID-19 vaccine uptake”, he said.

Sukumun further urged the government to ensure that routine sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene interventions are provided in communities and LGAS with poor access, especially those with endemic trends.

He sought that such facilities should be made available in schools, healthcare centers and public places to support inclusive access to
WASH for all.

WODASS also called on the government to cale-up WaterAid’s Clean Family Campaign to all local government areas across the three
senatorial zones of Bauchi state and ensure personal and environmental hygiene are at the core
of immediate response plans, among others.

He said despite evidence of the effectiveness of good hygiene practices in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, most Nigerians are still unable to practice good hygiene behaviors due to lack of access to WASH services.

According to him, poor capacity, financing, institutional arrangements, coordination, accountability mechanisms, implimentation of national and state policies and plans are some of the issues that prevent the effective and sustainable provision of those services.

Adding that, such issues have continued to be a major blockage to improvements that could drastically change the lives of millions of Nigerians.

Sukumun said Water, Sanitation, Hygiene National Outcome Routine Mapping Survey 2021 (WASHNORMS 2021) shows that 81 percent of the people in Bauchi State lack access to basic hygiene services, while 21% still practice open defecation.

He said decried that, such act pollutes the environment and water bodies, contributing to the consumption of E. coli contaminated water by 74 percent of the population.

“Currently, only 2% of people in the state can access safely managed water. In schools, healthcare centres and public places, access to basic WASH services is equally very low, with 18 percent and 7 percent and 3 percent access rates respectively”, he said.

WODASS while describing the statistics as alarming, said they revealed that Bauchi State still has a long way to go to achieve sustainable development goal 6- ensuring access
to adequate and equitable water, sanitation and hygiene for all by 2030.

“In the meantime, millions of the state’s population, including women, children and people with disabilities, remain vulnerable to diseases such as COVID-19, as Nigeria continues to record infections and as newer variants of the virus emerge across the globe”, the NGO noted.

Mr. Ezekiel Sukumun said last year, no fewer than 2,874 residents of Bauchi State were hospitalized as a result of frequent cholera outbreaks, with 42 deaths recorded.

He said out of the figure, Bauchi Local Government Area had the highest number of casualties with
about 77 percent of the cases, representing 2,185 people, Toro LGA recorded 212 cholera cases
within the period while Dass and Tafawa local government areas had about 100 cases each.

“In 2021, 19 LGAS out of Bauchi’s 20 LGAS recorded confirmed cholera cases, except for Bogoro LGA.
Cholera has been on the rise nationwide since the beginning of the year, with 74 deaths reported so
far by NCDC. Children below five years are the most affected by this life-threatening and primarily waterborne disease which thrives in places with poor hygiene and sanitation”, the NGO revealed.

Sukumun explained that apart from the
health implications, cholera also has socio-economic impact which includes, affecting productivity,
work-related activities and income/finances.

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