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27.06.2004 Regional News

Agency launches hand-washing campaign

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Sunyani (B/A) June 27, GNA - The Public Private Partnership on Friday launched its "Hand-washing with soap" campaign in Brong-Ahafo in Sunyani.

The programme is aimed at helping to reduce morbidity and mortality rate among children under five years through an integrated promotion campaign to wash hands with soap at critical times in order to reduce diarrhoeal diseases.

Mr. Francis Enu, acting regional director of Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), said the target groups of the campaign were women with children under five years, children in primary schools and junior secondary schools.

He said the CWSA, with assistance from the government and other development partners was contributing its quota towards poverty reduction in the country, as women would have enough time to attend to other ventures when their children were healthy.

Mr. Enu said the CSWA had provided 700 boreholes fitted with handpumps in 13 districts, 220 school latrines, 16 small-town piped systems and had trained 200 school teachers and 1100 WATSANs in hygiene, since it started operations in the region in 1994.

This has increased the water and sanitation coverage from 18 to 40 percent by the close of 2003, he added.

The acting regional director gave assurance that the next phase of the project would take off next October, hopefully to increase the coverage so that the people in the region would be less burdened with water-borne diseases.

Nana Kwadwo Seinti, Brong-Ahafo Regional Minister, in a speech read for him noted that washing hands with soap and water after visiting the toilet and before preparing and eating food was a minor act that could have a major effect on the lives of people.

He expressed regret that the incidence of hand-washing with soap was very low across all age groups and gender in the country, noting that the majority of people who worked on farms, at market places, factories, industries and offices ate food without washing their hands properly with ordinary water, let alone to do it with soap.

"Most children who play in the dust and filthy places like refuse dumps rush home when they are hungry and eat without washing their hands.

"Medical research has shown that this has been the major cause of diarrhoeal diseases and worm infestation, especially in the under five year olds", the Regional Minister said.

Nana Seinti noted that, "this behaviour has been with us for a very long time and will require a massive public education at the community level, in the homes, work places, markets/lorry parks, chop bars, schools, health institutions, to change it."

The Regional Minister called for the effective collaborative efforts of the Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the mass media and the private sector to make the campaign a success.

"The success of the programme will depend a great deal on behavioural change", he added and urged the people to make conscious effort to accept and practice it.