October 2013: Global Handwashing Day
By Rufus C. E. Eshuchi
LUSAKA, Zambia – For the sixth consecutive year, on 15 October 2013, Zambia joined the rest of the world in celebrating Global Handwashing Day (GHD).
This event is aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent disease.
In Zambia, the national celebrations were held in Chibombo district at Mklashi Primary School. Presided over by Deputy Minister of Local Government and Housing Hon. John Kufuna, MP, the event was attended by over 2,000 children drawn from 11 primary schools in the district and over 1,000 members of the surrounding community.
UNICEF Zambia, in collaboration with other stakeholders, supports the Ministry of Local Government and Housing as a lead agency to commemorate this event.
Hand-washing with soap is the “vaccine” that prevents infections. Here is why: Human faeces are the main source of diarrheal pathogens. They are the source of shigellosis, typhoid, cholera, all other common endemic gastro-enteric infections, and some respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia.
A single gram of human faeces can contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria.These pathogens are passed from an infected host to a new one via various routes but all of these illnesses emanate from faeces.
Removing excreta and cleaning hands with soap after contact with faecal material – from using the toilet or cleaning a child – prevents the transmission of the bacteria, viruses and protozoa that cause diarrheal diseases.
Eshuchi is a C4D Specialist with UNICEF Zambia.