Tanzania, 21 October 2013: UNICEF on Global Handwashing Day: A simple solution with far-reaching benefits – the power is in our hands
Dar es Salaam, 21 October 2013 – UNICEF joins hundreds of thousands of people across Tanzania today in celebrating the 6th annual Global Handwashing Day, emphasizing the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective, simple, and affordable way to prevent faecal-oral diseases.
“The simple act of handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways to save children’s lives,” says Kiwe Sebunya, Chief of UNICEF’s Water Sanitation and Hygiene programme in Tanzania. “Washing hands before eating and after visiting toilet drastically reduces the spread of diarrhoeal disease and has far reaching effects on the health and welfare of children and communities.”
According to UNICEF and the Ministry of Health, diarrhoea remains among the top five leading cause of under-five mortality in Tanzania. One third of all child deaths that occur within the first month of life are related to infections or diarrhoeal diseases caused by a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene. Diarrhoea is also associated with a higher risk of stunting (low weight for age and developmental delay) and takes a huge toll on society. Over 40 per cent of children under five years of age in Tanzania are stunted.
One of the simplest and most inexpensive barriers to infection is handwashing with soap. According to the 2010 Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey, only one in five Tanzanians washes hands with soap before preparing food and one in two Tanzanians lacks access to clean and safe water sources. Moreover, access to improved sanitation is 22 per cent in urban areas and 9 per cent in rural areas.
Global Handwashing Day events around Tanzania are helping promote handwashing and raise awareness of the crucially important role it plays in child survival and overall community health. Around 3 million people (including school children) will participate in handwashing demonstrations and workshops across the country.
The event was launched by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, UNICEF and other organizations in Mugulani Primary School in Temeke district, Dar es Salaam. Activities included drama, role plays on hand washing and mass handwashing with the dissemination of leaflets and posters. In addition, a handwashing with soap road-show started from Dar es Salaam today and will visit eight regions over the next five weeks. The road show will be making pit-stops in a total of 24 schools, promoting handwashing with soap, household water treatment and safe storage practices as well as use of improved latrines through distribution of leaflets, songs, poems, competitions and role plays.
This year’s theme, announced by the Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing, which includes UNICEF, is "The power is in your hands" because, the Partnership says, everyone has the power to create healthier communities through handwashing with soap. However, in Tanzania partners have agreed on the following theme, which relates to the global theme: “Usafi ni ustaarabu, unaanza na sisi; tumia choo bora, nawa mikono kwa sabuni, okoa maisha ya watoto”, (which translates into “Cleanliness is civilization, it starts with us; let’s use improved latrines, wash our hands with soap and save children’s’ lives”). The evidence is clear. Each individual—every mother, every child, every teacher, every member of every community—can contribute to the health of all by just washing their hands,” adds Kiwe Sebunya. “If you knew of something monumental that could benefit the world, you would do it. Everyone has this power – simply wet, lather and rinse - with soap and water.”
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