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03.10.2008 General News

UNICEF Declares 15 October Global Hand Washing Day


The United Nations Fund for Children's Activities (UNICEF) has declared October 15, as global hand washing day to create awareness raising and educational activity to accelerate hand washing behaviour among parents and school children.

This year's Global hand washing will focus on school children as agents of change and create fusion and full commitment of schools, homes and communities to maximise outreach to children all over the world.

This was contained in a press release issued and signed by Mr Abednego Chigumbu, the Sanitation and Hygiene Officer of UNICEF in the organisation's office in Tamale last Wednesday.

The global Hand Washing Day is spearheaded by a high profile coalition of UNICEF, USAID, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Water and Sanitation Programme, Unilever, Procter and Gamble.

Millions of children from 20 countries across five continents will join hands to encourage hand washing with soap on the first ever global hand washing day.

The release notes that hand washing plays an important part in the efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) relating to health improvements, education and the reduction of poverty and child mortality.

It also aims to access the effective use of water supply and sanitation services as agreed to by the UN member countries at the World Summit on sustainable development in Johannesburg in September 2002.

The release also notes that, almost every 20 seconds, a mother mourns a dead child, lost to diarrhoea, which is both preventable and treatable and said hand washing with soap, coupled with educational initiatives can be one of the world's most cost-effective preventive health interventions.

It said the method has proven to reduce the risk of not only diarrhoea but also some of its more severe manifestations such as cholera and dysentery by 48 to 59 per cent.

On October 15, school children, teachers and parents will join celebrities, government officials, NGO ambassadors and members of the private sector to call for proper hygiene practices across the world to raise awareness that, hand washing with soap is a powerful health intervention.