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Indian cricket star Sachin Tendulkar goes to bat for better hygiene through handwashing

UNICEF Image: Cricket, Hygiene, Sanitation, Girls' Education
© UNICEF video
One of cricket’s all-time great batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar, in a public service announcement that will broadcast in 14 languages and target 6 million schools across India, encouraging children to wash their hands.

By Angela Walker

NEW DELHI, India, 8 October 2008 – International cricket sensation Sachin Tendulkar has joined forces with UNICEF to get Indian children to improve their health and hygiene as part of the first Global Handwashing Day, to be observed on 15 October.

Mr. Tendulkar features in a public service announcement that will broadcast this month in 14 languages across India. It will target students in more than 6 million schools.

“Having a celebrity of this magnitude, who is instantly recognizable to cricket fans not only in India but around the world, will help us mobilize millions of young people,” said UNICEF Representative in India Karin Hulshof.

‘I wanted to be part of this campaign’

Known as the ‘Master Blaster’, Mr. Tendulkar is one of the greatest batsmen in the history of the game. He’s the first player to score 10,000 runs in one-day internationals and is among only three batsmen to surpass 11,000 runs in test cricket.

“Having two young children, I constantly have to remind them to wash their hands before and after meals,” Mr. Tendulkar said. “I wanted to be a part of this campaign, because washing hands with soap can keep children safe and healthy and protect them against deadly disease.”

India’s campaign is part of a global movement uniting millions of children in 52 countries across five continents as part of the International Year of Sanitation 2008. Nearly half of the world’s population, or 2.6 billion people (2 billion of them living in rural areas), do not have access to adequate sanitation. This has widespread implications for human health, child survival, economic productivity and pollution of living spaces and water resources.

Washing hands with soap is one of the most cost-effective ways prevent diarrhoea, the second biggest killer of children in India. Proper handwashing can reduce diarrhoeal cases by half and acute respiratory illnesses by up to one-third.

UNICEF Image: Cricket, Hygiene, Sanitation, Girls' Education
© UNICEF video
The PSA encouraging Indian children to wash their hands is part of a global movement organized as part of the International Year of Sanitation.

Sanitation helps girls

Washing hands and using toilets properly not only improves health, but also helps children concentrate on getting and education. The sanitation coverage in Indian schools is estimated to be about 58 per cent. Providing private and separate sanitary latrines in schools can significantly increase girls’ enrolment.

Proper sanitation facilities in schools can also drastically improve the chances of a girl completing her education.

World leaders have agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals to reach targets addressing extreme poverty. MDG 7 aims to reduce by half the number of people without access to sanitation by 2015. About 54 per cent of India’s rural population has access to toilets, according to Indian Government data. More than half a billion people in the country practice open defecation.

A partner for development

To meet the MDG challenge, the Government of India has launched major efforts to promote household and school hygiene through its Total Sanitation Campaign, a comprehensive programme to ensure sanitation facilities in rural areas.

“UNICEF is an essential partner in our efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals,” said Minister of Rural Development Dr. Raghuvansh Prasad Singh. “We know that improved sanitation is an essential element to improve the health and welfare of our nation’s children.”




6 October 2008:
View the PSA featuring one of cricket’s all-time great batsmen, Sachin Tendulkar, encouraging Indian children to wash their hands.
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