By Abubakar Baba Ahmad.
Environmental and Sanitation ambassadors in Secondary Schools have advocated the establishment of Clubs and improved awareness on Environmental Health towards preventing the outbreak of Communicable diseases among children.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund UNICEF, adequate sanitation and Hygiene are essential to children’s survival and development, thereby improving children’s education, productivity and building resilience in the face of disease and disaster.
This is evident as UNICEF statistics shows that nearly half of all schools do not have basic hygiene services.
The UNICEF says one in three primary schools lack basic sanitation and water and that three billion people worldwide, including hundreds of millions of school-going children have no access to hand-washing facilities with soap.
A schools in Azare, Ummul Qura Science Academy is a perfect example of how the awareness and sensitisation helped in preventing pupils, students, teachers and their various households from the dangers of unhygienic water and unhealthy environment.
Situated at Matsango in Azare town, the headquarters of Katagum local government area of Bauchi state, Ummul Qura Science Academy boasts of forty five classes with each having its toilet and sufficient water supply for personal hygiene.
According to the Director Ummul Qura Academy, Malam Jibril Shirama, the school has embarked on tree planting with over one thousand seedlings so far distributed to pupils and students for planting in houses, mosques, churches and other public places.
“I sell the idea of tree planting to some of the proprietors of schools here in this town and they promised to establish such kinds of clubs, and even now we are trying to take some of our students to the newly established University, General Hospital so as to do sanitations and plant trees”, He discloses.
Jibril Shirama said since the introduction of the Environmental Health Club two years ago, the school has not spared an opportunity to enlighten the children about hygiene related issues, noting that a total of 800 litres of water is used daily for personal and environmental purposes.
The Female President of Environmental Health Club of the school, Hadiza Tijjani Ilyas informed Radio Nigeria that with 50 members under her, the club runs two sanitation shifts every day to ensure the school environment is clean and safe for smooth academic activities.
Hadiza Ilyas said apart from the individual awareness campaign embarked by each of the club members to families and their immediate community, the school has also keyed into the UNICEF “Menstrual Bank” initiative to ensure that female students especially those observing their menstrual cycle do not skip school for lack of hygiene kits.
“As the President of the club, we have the health perfect who has custody of the Sanitary kits and if any of such situations occurs, the students concerned meet me so that I can collect it for them to get themselves cleaned”, Hadiza narrates.
On his part, the Male President of the Club, Kalid Isa Nakanjuwa said with 120 members out of the about 600 male students in the school, the club is facing financial difficulty in running its activities, vowing to leave a legacy before graduating from the school in six months time.
Kalid Nakanjuwa who resides at Matsango, an area with a large population of tsangaya pupils also known as Almajiri, has made it a routine exercise to always counsel the children on proper personal and environmental hygiene to safeguard themselves particularly from contracting communicable diseases like cholera.
“Apart from the Health Club in the school, I also run similar club at my street because we have many tsangaya pupils who I enlighten from time to time on stopping open defecation and how to take care of their personal hygiene to avoid outbreak of diseases”, Nakanjuwa explains.
Corroborating the Director’s remark, the Principal, Labour Master and Head of Works of the Academy Abdullahi Aliyu, Shamsu Sani and Abdullahi Muhammad respectively said communicable and tropical diseases in form of pathogens accumulate and spread in unhygienic environment, a situation that compelled the school to ensure all stagnant water and dirt are cleared using either disinfectants or sanitary equipments at least twice daily.
With the facilities met on ground, Ummul Qura Science Academy stands to meet the UNICEF five Star approach to sanitation in the areas of improved toilet separate for boys and girls, adequate WASH facilities, No open defecation, Menstrual Hygiene Management and gated boundary fence among others.