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Washing hands with soap and water still saves lives

ACCRA, Ghana 15 October 2013 - In Ghana one child out of every twelve born alive dies before the age of five and diarrhoea accounts for a good number of these childhood deaths. Similarly, new figures from UNICEF say 1,400 children under the age of five still die every day from diarrhoea disease caused by lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene.  The simple act of washing hands with soap and water by caregivers could reduce these deaths drastically.

According to UNICEF, diarrhoea still remains the second largest cause of under-five mortality globally. With 600,000 children dying in each year and over 1.7 billion cases, diarrhoeal diseases are also associated with a higher risk of stunting (low weight for age and developmental delay) and take a huge toll on society.

“The power to save the lives of children from diarrhoea lies in our hands, washing hands with soap and water after using the toilet and before touching food have been proven to be one of the cost effective ways to save children’s lives ” said UNICEF Representative Susan Namondo Ngongi.

Data from the 2011 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey done in Ghana suggests that of the  24 percent of households that have a designated place for washing hands, only half of that percentage had soap and water available at those points at the time of the survey. Yet it is the combination of using soap and water to wash hands that would prevent infection.

As the world observes the 6th annual Global Handwashing Day, events around the world and in Ghana are helping to promote handwashing and raise awareness of the crucially important role it plays in child survival and overall community health. In Ghana, over 10,000 people are expected to be reached with the message of washing hands at the five critical times.

School children across the country will mark the day with drama, poetry recitals, quiz competitions and create awareness about the importance of washing hands with soap. A national event will be held in the Jumapo community in the Eastern region where Political and traditional leaders as well as the general public will participate. The event will be used to create awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap at critical times. Mass media events will be held across the country as well as sensitizing the public at various levels.

This year’s theme, announced by the Global Public Private Partnership for Handwashing, which includes UNICEF, is "The power is in your hands" because, the Partnership says, everyone has the power to create healthier communities through handwashing with soap. 



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