Kabul Afghanistan 15 October 2019: - On 15 October officials from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Public Health, Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, UNICEF, WHO and other partners joined in Soria High school to celebrate Global Handwashing Day together with school children.
An advocacy campaign led by the Ministry of Education supported by UNICEF to raise awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap was launched on 20 September 2019. The campaign so far targeted 310 schools across Kabul and 26 provinces, benefiting a total of 195,000 students and 4800 teachers. Handwashing with soap is a very simple and highly effective practice which prevents spread of disease especially diarrhea and acute respiratory infections among children.
Global Handwashing Day is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as fundamental to good health and development. The 2019 Global Handwashing Day theme is ‘clean hands for all,’ which focuses on the importance of handwashing equity. Handwashing with soap is important for prevention of disease. It can prevent diarrheal disease by 44% and Acute Respiratory Infection by 24%. Handwashing with soap can prevent child malnutrition which affect 41% of Afghan children under the age of five years.
Currently, only 60% of households throughout the globe have access to basic handwashing facility which includes handwashing facility with soap and water on the premises. In Afghanistan, through observation it was found that only 36% of households had water and soap available for handwashing (Demographic Health Survey DHS, 2015). Distribution of access to handwashing facilities is not the same across the population groups. Rural people have lower access than urban. Other vulnerable groups such as people with disability have poorer access to handwashing facilities with water and soap.
“Hand washing with water and soap play a key role in our health, therefore all teachers, students and public should make it their habit. Washing hand is not a one-day activity; however, it should become an important part of culture and both teachers and students should support this culture at schools, their homes and in their communities” said H. E. Mohammad Mirwais Balkhi, the Minister of Education.
"Unfortunately, Afghanistan is still among the countries with the highest child mortality under five. According to health information systems in Afghanistan in 2018, more than 3.5 million diarrhea cases have been reported in children under 5 years old. Evidence shows that hand washing with soap can reduce diarrhea by up to 44%, especially before eating, and after using the toilets. So, by implementing the slogans of clean hands for all in our daily live, let us reduce the impacts of epidemic daisies and the mortality rate in our children”. Said Feda Mohammad Paikan Deputy Minister of Public Health.
"Handwashing is one of the easiest, cheapest, most practical and time-consuming and Islamic practices that nothing else can replace it; however, and what I would insist is, to wash hand with soap. The Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development is committed to provide clean water and sanitation facilities to all the villagers by 2030". Said Mohammad Esa Qudrat, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development.
“UNICEF has been supporting the Government of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan to ensure Afghan children gain access to safe drinking water, improved sanitation facilities and practice good hygiene at all time and everywhere. UNICEF puts special emphasis on improving the practice of Handwashing with soap in schools and health centers through what is called Health Centre Hygiene Program. For hand washing to be effective it must be practiced consistently at key times, such as after using the toilet, after changing baby’s nappy and disposing of feces, before feeding children or before contacting food etc”. said Ms. Sheema Sen Gupta UNICF Deputy Representative
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children in Afghanistan, visit www.unicef.org/afghanistan.