Kamis, 01 November 2012


Story & Picture: Zainabu Issah


The Global Hand Washing Day (GHWD) was observed in Accra yesterday with a call by Mrs Matilda Amissah-Arthur, wife of the Vice-President, on the public to cultivate the attitude of ensuring personal hygiene and environmental cleanliness for long and healthy life.

Launching the fifth anniversary of the annual event,  the Second Lady said hand washing with soap was a very simple act which could save many lives, especially of children.

The day is celebrated to create more awareness on hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way of preventing diseases.

It  is estimated that about 3.5 million child deaths are recorded as a result of preventable diseases such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.

The event forms part of the Public Private Partnership for Hand Washing With Soap Programme (PPPHW), a joint effort of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), the World Bank, UNICEF, WaterAid, Plan Ghana, Unilever, World Vision, and other public, development and private partners.

Mrs Amissah-Arthur said globally, diarrhoeal diseases killed up to three million children every year while in Ghana, it was one of the major causes of death and illness among children under five years of age.

Additionally, she said, reducing the incidence of diarrhoea in the country could significantly reduce the burden of health care on families.

Also, hand washing, if effectively applied, would provide a key support to reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on sanitation.

The Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr E. T. Mensah, said that about 5,800 cases of cholera had been reported between January and September this year, resulting in 60 deaths.

He said even though the simple task of washing hands with soap was critical to avoiding the spread of diseases, it was also common to find people using their hands unhygienically.

“This goes to demonstrate that while the adoption of specific hygiene behaviour has proved useful in containing outbreaks of infectious diseases, it is true that the adoption of such behaviour could be difficult,” he explained.

Mr Mensah, therefore, appealed to stakeholders in the various sanitation sectors to put up strategies that would help in the promotion of hand washing with soap as a national programme.

He also called on the various health centres to promote the message of hand washing with soap as part of their daily talks with patients.

“Let us join hands in the global effort to enhance the awareness and practice of washing hands with soap at the critical times, especially after visiting the toilet and before we handle food,” he added.

Speaking on the theme, the Director of Family Health of the Ghana Health Service (GES), Dr Gloria Quansah-Asare, said more than half of under-five child deaths were due to diseases which were preventable and treatable through simple and affordable interventions like hand washing with soap.

She said hand washing with soap was the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrhoeal and acute respiratory infections.

Also, she said, studies conducted in some developing countries suggested that hand washing with soap could reduce the number of pneumonia-related infection in children under age five by more that 50 per cent.

Furthermore, the perennial outbreaks of cholera in the country could greatly be eradicated if people should adopt proper hygienic practices.

Dr Quansah-Asare, therefore, urged all and sundry to consider hand washing with soap as a priority in their everyday lives.

In a speech read on his behalf, the Chief Executive Officer of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Mr Clement Bugase, said hand washing with soap was a key action in protecting public health.

 He, therefore, called on stakeholders to continue to support the noble cause to achieve the objectives of the GHWD.

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