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Cricketers Go Handwashing

Indian Cricket Team Joins 100 Million School Children to Soap Up For Global Handwashing Day

Chandigarh, India, 15 October 2008: Indian cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar and his team mates are joining millions of school children around the country to lather up for better health and hygiene as part of today's first ever Global Handwashing Day.

"Sachin, you and your team mates, are an inspiration to young Indians and cricket fans around the world," said UNICEF’s India Representative, Karin Hulshof, who travelled to Mohali Cricket grounds, in Chandigarh, for the event. "And even more important is your commitment to giving your time and energy to keep India's children safe and healthy. You and the team are great examples of what we – the Government of India, UNICEF, Indian cricket and the young people throughout this great nation – can achieve together when we wash our hands with soap to stay healthy."

Tendulkar, who is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the sport, is well on his way to breaking the world test cricket run record. He appeared for free in a public service announcement developed by UNICEF and the Government of India being broadcast in 14 languages on television channels across the country to drum up support for the campaign.
(To view the PSA: http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/india_45854.html)

"I wanted to be a part of this campaign, because washing hands with soap can keep children safe and healthy and protect them against deadly diseases," the cricket star said. "Having two young children, I constantly have to remind them to wash their hands before and after meals."

Today's cricket event is just one of thousands of activities taking place across the country as part of the global movement uniting millions of children in more than 70 countries across five continents. In India, today a 100 million children will wash hands with soap at rural schools in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Gujarat, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and Assam states.

More than 1,000 children die every day in India from diarrhoea. But the simple, cost-effective solution of washing hands with soap after defecation and before meals would greatly reduce that number. Proper handwashing with soap can reduce diarrhoeal cases by 47 percent and acute respiratory illnesses by 30 percent.

According to the Public Health Association, only 53 percent of people in India wash hands after defecation, 38 per cent wash hands before eating and only 30 percent wash hands before preparing food.

Global Handwashing Day is part of the International Year of Sanitation 2008. Goal seven of the Millennium Development Goals aims to reduce by half the number of people without access to sanitation by 2015. Almost half of the people around the world without a toilet live in India. Many of them live in rural areas.

Practicing open defecation creates an environment in which diseases can transmit easily. One gram of faeces alone can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs.

According to the Public Health Association, only 53 percent of people in India wash hands after defecation, 38 per cent wash hands before eating and only 30 percent wash hands before preparing food. Many people don't wash their hands, because they believe that hands that look clean cannot make them sick. Many people also believe that water alone is sufficient to remove visible dirt from hands. As part of Global Handwashing Day, a five-step handwashing technique, developed in Tamil Nadu state, is being taught to school children around the country.

"The challenge is to find effective ways of getting people to wash their hands appropriately at the right time and with the right technique," said Chief of District Administration in Dharmapuri district in Tamil Nadu, Amudha Perisiamy.

"The crux of this campaign is that we are reaching out to students in hundreds of thousands of schools in rural India, from children in the flood-affected areas of Bihar to schools in far removed tribal regions of Jharkhand to satellite schools in Rajasthan," said UNICEF India Chief of Water and Sanitation, Lizette Burgers.

Adequate sanitation also has a huge impact on school attendance. Providing private and separate sanitary latrines in school can increase girls' enrollment by 11 percent. Currently about 65 percent of Indian schools have sanitation coverage with only 34 percent of girls completing their schooling. As part of the Global Handwashing Day, participating children will pledge to wash their hands with soap following the prescribed five-step method.

"The crux of this campaign is that we are reaching out to students in hundreds of thousands of schools in rural India, from children in the flood-affected areas of Bihar to schools in far removed tribal regions of Jharkhand to satellite schools in Rajasthan," said UNICEF India Chief of Water and Sanitation, Lizette Burgers.

For more information, please contact:

Angela Walker, Communication Chief, UNICEF India.
Tel: +91-98-18106093; e-mail: awalker@unicef.org.

Geetnajali Master, Communication Specialist, UNICEF India.
Tel: +91-98-18105861; e-mail: gmaster@unicef.org

Alistair Gretarsson, Communication Officer, UNICEF India.
Tel: +91-98-7153-5586; e-mail: agretarsson@unicef.org

 

 
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