15 October 2010 - UNICEF and Partners Promote Handwashing with Soap to Keep Ugandan Children Alive
Kampala, 15 October 2010 – Today, Uganda celebrates Global Handwashing Day with events throughout the country where children, teachers and government officials will lather up to promote the importance of handwashing with soap.
“Handwashing with soap, especially before preparing food and after using the toilet, can have a significant impact on saving children’s lives,” said Dr. Sharad Sapra, UNICEF Uganda Country Representative. “This simple act can have extraordinary results.”
Using soap while handwashing is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrhoeal diseases and pneumonia.
In Uganda, approximately 190,000 children under five die every year, and nearly 40% of those deaths are due to pneumonia and diarrhoea.
Washing hands with soap prevents the spread of disease and can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea rates among under 5s by almost 50%, and respiratory infections by 25%.
“A recent study showed that 95% of homes in Uganda have soap, so the absence of soap in households is not the issue,” said Sapra. “What we need to do is focus on how it is used and ensure that the practice of handwashing with soap becomes routine. Washing hands with water alone is not enough to prevent disease.”
UNICEF, the Government of Uganda and several partners, including the WSP/World Bank, DANIDA, Unilever, Mukwano Industries and civil society are working together in order to educate communities on the life-saving benefits of washing hands with soap.
Significant funding from the European Union, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency and Saraya Limited of Japan is also being used to support this campaign.
A number of achievements have so far been made, including the identification, training and equipping of nearly 3,000 handwashing ambassadors (HWAs) - community volunteers that are spreading the word about the importance of handwashing with soap in rural areas.
The third annual Global Handwashing Day being celebrated today has been utilised to officially launch the campaign in 30 districts of Uganda. While, the national launch of the campaign is scheduled to take place in Hoima District on 21 October 2010.
Global Handwashing Day is an initiative of the global public-private partnership for handwashing with soap, and is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organisations, NGOs, private companies and individuals worldwide.
UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.