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15 October 2010 – Global Handwashing Day: Sudan joins the celebration by reaching out to millions

Khartoum/Juba, Wash hands regularly with soap and water is one of the simplest, most affordable, and effective ways of preventing disease and saving lives.

This message is at the heart of a massive campaign spearheaded by GONU and GoSS, in collaboration with UNICEF, community organizations, and private partners, to reach out to millions of Sudanese, especially children, on the third year of Global Handwashing Day.

Under the global theme “More than Just a Day”, UNICEF Sudan has joined the worldwide event by aiming to turn handwashing into a regular habit well beyond the celebrations, and instill this life-saving practice in the hearts and minds of communities in Sudan - especially children who are the most vulnerable to disease.

“Even though they are the most vulnerable, children are also the most inclined to learn, and they are quick to adopt new habits,” says Nils Kastberg, UNICEF Representative in Sudan“Even though they are the most vulnerable, children are also the most inclined to learn, and they are quick to adopt new habits,” says Nils Kastberg, UNICEF Representative in Sudan. “Getting children involved in handwashing promotion is a great opportunity to make them aware of the health benefits of regular handwashing. And it helps children develop positive behaviours that will help them and others fight disease and stay healthy,” he added.

UNICEF is actively promoting handwashing as a regular and essential routine by organizing activities all across Sudan to raise awareness about the benefits of regular handwashing as a positive habit, and about the need to ensure that schools, hospitals, and communities have the support needed to make handwashing a regular practice.

Each year, more than 300,000 children in Sudan under the age of five die from preventable diseases such as acute watery diarrhea or respiratory infections. Washing hands with soap and water especially at critical times –after using the toilet and before handling food - helps reduce the incidence of diarrheal disease by more than 40 per cent. Despite these obvious benefits, handwashing is not practiced regularly in Sudan or in many other developing countries.

Global Handwashing Day underscores the importance of handwashing regularly with soap and water as one of the most effective and affordable health interventions. Today, and in the next few days, UNICEF Sudan, in collaboration with GoNU, GoSS, and community organizations and private partners, will take that message to playgrounds and schools, community centers and hospitals, public spaces and households through radio, TV, and even mobile phones.

In Kassala, Gedaref, Blue Nile, South and North Kordofan, Abyei as well as the three areas in Darfur, more than 77,200 children in over 193 schools will participate in activities such as drama and poetry plays about handwashing. More than 600,000 people in hundreds of communities will also participate in promotion activities such as parades, community meetings and exhibitions. Radio and TV messages on the importance of handwashing will be transmitted to reach more than 3.5 million people all across north Sudan, and mobile phone company Zain will send SMS messages about handwashing to subscribers during the 14 and the 15 of October.  UNICEF will also provide handwashing facilities and distribute soap in schools, community centers, and other public spaces.

In Southern Sudan, similar programmes will take place over the next few days, with the direct participation of more than 30,000 children in diverse activities in schools and hospitals in all 10 states to promote regular handwashing. Media campaigns on the importance of handwashing are expected to reach more than 3.2 million people.

About UNICEF:
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, safe water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For more information, please contact:
 
Valentina Rios, Officer-in-charge, Media & External Relations UNICEF Sudan,
Mobile: +249 (0) 912174640, Email: ovrios@unicef.org

Douglas Armour, Manager, Communications and Advocacy, UNICEF Southern Sudan Area Programme, Juba, Sudan, Mobile + (249) (0) 928 278 975; + (249) (0) 913 143 481
Email:    darmour@unicef.org

Abdel-Rahman Ghandour, Regional Chief, Communication, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa. Mobile: +962 (6) 550 2407, Email: arghandour@unicef.org

 

 
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