DHAKA, 15 OCTOBER 2019 – Bangladesh today (Tuesday) celebrated the Global Handwashing Day with nearly 7.5 million students from 59,631 Government Primary Schools washing their hands with soap across the country. The main programme was held in Residential Model School & College at Mohammadpur, Dhaka. It was organized jointly by Local Government Division (LGD), Department of Primary Education and UNICEF.
Studies show handwashing with water and soap is the most cost-effective health intervention to reduce both the incidence of diarrhea and pneumonia in children under five. Handwashing with soap at critical times - including before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet – can reduce diarrhea rates by more than 40 per cent and incidence of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) by around 23 per cent.
Global Handwashing Day is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as it is fundamental to good health and development. The Day is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times. Since 2008, the day is celebrated every year on October 15th.
The theme of this year is ‘Clean hands for all,’ It follows the push towards leaving no one behind in the Sustainable Development Agenda. Inequalities in handwashing facilities and lack of effective handwashing promotion programmmes can put individuals at higher risk for diseases that impact their health, education, and economic outcomes.
Md Tazul Islam MP, Minister for Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives; Swapan Bhattacharjee, MP, State Minister for Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development & Cooperatives; Helal Uddin Ahmed, Secretary, Local Government Division; Tomoo Hozumi, Representative, UNICEF Bangladesh; Md. Zahirul Islam, Additional Secretary, Local Government Division; Md. Abdul Mannan, Additional Director General, Directorate of Primary Education; and Md. Saifur Rahman, Chief Engineer, DPHE were present on the occasion.
It was emphasized during the event that Bangladesh is well ahead in achieving WASH SDGs. To sustain the gains and to improve the current situation of hand washing behavior we need to ensure that everyone, everywhere is reached with hand washing facilities with soap and water. These include populations in urban and rural areas, people across all financial status, vulnerable groups such as elderly and people with disabilities, marginalized groups such as indigenous and displaced populations and of course that includes schools, health facilities, and workplaces in addition to households.
To achieve this, beside implementing contextually appropriate behavior-centred programs to establish and ingrain the habit of handwashing with soap at critical times, we need to utilize best practices, such as incorporating enabling technologies, social norms, and new applications of habit science, such as nudges, monitoring and reporting on progress and incorporate handwashing in policies, strategies, and programs that seek to achieve related SDGs.
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, visit www.unicef.org.bd