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Clean Hands Save Lives

UNICEF/South Africa/2010/Pawelczyk
© UNICEF/South Africa/2010/Pawelczyk
Everyone who attended the commemoration was encouraged to wash their hands using one of the mobile handwashing stations.

Commemoration of Global Handwashing Day and launch of national handwashing campaign

15 October 2010, Eastern Cape…Braving the wind and rain, close to 2,000 children, parents, teachers and community members gathered at the Mount Packard Secondary Junior School in Nenge Village to commemorate the third Global Handwashing Day and to spread the message that clean hands save lives.

The event marked the start of a national handwashing campaign in South Africa, which, through the power of mass media and community mobilization, will bring the lifesaving message of handwashing with soap and water to millions of people countrywide.

“Washing hands with soap and water at critical times helps reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal disease by more than 40 per cent,” said Dr. David Kalombo, Senior HIV & AIDS Specialist at UNICEF South Africa.

In spite of its effectiveness in helping to reduce incidence of disease, this simple and affordable health intervention is often not practiced regularly.  Each year, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections are responsible for the deaths of more than 3.5 million children under the age of five, worldwide. The 2010 theme for Global Handwashing Day in South Africa is – Clean Hands Save Lives – and emphasizes the need to make the washing of hands with soap and water a normal part of people’s lives.

“Before we eat we must wash our hands and when we come back from the toilet. Also when we are helping with a baby,” said eight-year-old Sisanda, highlighting some of the key times when the washing of hands is a must.

UNICEF/South Africa/2010/Pawelczyk
© UNICEF/South Africa/2010/Pawelczyk
Dr. David Kalombo from UNICEF, stressed that regular handwashing is key to reducing the incidence of certain diseases.

Dozens of mobile handwashing dispensers were placed around Mount Packard school, encouraging all those attending to lather up. Community health workers from the OR Tambo Municipality and eager youngsters were on-hand to assist anyone who needed help.

“Handwashing remains one of the simplest ways to protect young children from diseases that claim millions of lives, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goal 4 of reducing child mortality,” stressed Dr. Kalombo.

The national handwashing campaign is a collaboration between various Government departments at national and provincial level – notably the Departments of Health and Human Settlements, UNICEF, various NGOs and private sector partners. Throughout October roadshows will be conducted in other schools and communities in South Africa to continue the crusade on personal hygiene promotion to eliminate preventable diseases.

Download the press release [WORD] [PDF]

Facts about handwashing [PDF]

Global Handwashing Day website

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