Over 3.5 million children worldwide die every year from diseases caused by lack of hygiene
Chisinau, 13 October 2011 – The Global Handwashing Day was established in 2008, when the UN General Assembly proclaimed the International Year of Sanitation, with the aim to promote proper hygiene practices. Worldwide people are accustomed to wash their hands with water only, but experts say washing hands properly requires mandatory use of soap.
Washing hands with soap is a cheap and effective way to avoid and prevent diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, hepatitis. Every year, more than 3.5 million children worldwide die before the age of five because of these diseases. Washing hands also prevent many skin infections, eye infections, avian flu.
In Moldova, not all households have soap, shampoo, toothbrush and toothpaste for their children. A UNICEF study shows that only four out of ten children wash hands after toilet, and the habit of washing hands is highly dependent on the attendance of kindergarten, preparedness of care givers and household socio-economic level.
Only 10% of children begin to brush their teeth between the age of 1 and 2 years. Almost all children in urban areas (93%) begin to brush their teeth at the age of 4-7 years as opposed to only 65% in rural areas.
UNICEF study "Quality of water, sanitation and hygiene practices in schools" conducted in 2010 shows that hygiene in schools in Moldova is unsatisfactory. In 232 schools in the country students are unable to wash their hands as taps and sinks are missing or damaged. 70% of schools lack soap and dryers.
More than half of children in rural schools have no access to internal toilets, while toilet paper is lacking in almost all rural schools and two thirds of urban schools. Thus, there is a danger that children fail to wash their hands after using the toilet and before eating, being at risk of contracting "dirty hands" diseases.
The Global Handwashing Day is an opportunity to motivate children to use proper hygiene practices and become real "clean hands ambassadors" promoting these messages at school, in the family and community.