Campaign to promote hygiene launched with Namibia's Health Ministry and Glaxo Smith Kline

UNICEF Image: Namibia
© UNICEF Namibia/2008
UNICEF Representative in Namibia Ian MacLeod (left) hands over hygiene household kits to Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services Petrina Haingura and the Governor of Ohangwena Region, Usko Nghaamwa.

WINDHOEK, Namibia, 4 November 2008 – UNICEF, in partnership with Namibia’s Health Ministry and Glaxo Smith Kline, recently urged civil society, private sector and other international partners to promote hygiene and sanitation in Namibia.

This call was made during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Namibia’s Ministry of Health and Social Services, UNICEF and GSK to implement the National Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Campaign.

The public-private partnership was launched on 15 October 2008, during Namibia’s celebration of the first-ever Global Handwashing Day, in Ohangwena. Speaking on that occasion, the Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Petrina Haingura, noted that diarrhoea is the third most common cause for hospital admittance and the second highest cause of paediatric admissions in Namibia.

“Diarrhoea accounted for 23 per cent of the under-five mortality in 2005,” said Ms. Haingura.

Access to proper sanitation

The lack of sanitation facilities, combined with a limited knowledge of basic hygiene and environmental sanitation, has led to increasingly high levels of diarrhoea-related mortality in the country.

Referring to the theme 'Clean Hands Save Lives', UNICEF Representative in Namibia Ian MacLeod said the country is in a similar position to most Southern African nations with low sanitation coverage.

“We know that at the policy level, the government is committed. It has clearly identified and given priority to water and sanitation as a way of tackling poverty,” said Mr. MacLeod.

“However, our challenge is to build on this political commitment and not only to ensure households have access to clean water and to latrines, but also to transform handwashing with soap into an ingrained habit that is performed in homes, schools and communities all over Namibia,” he added.

Building momentum

In order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, Namibia aims for 62 per cent sanitation coverage by 2015.

The main aim of the campaign is to raise awareness about the benefits of washing with soap and of improved sanitation. The campaign, which will run until the end of 2009 with financial support from GSK, is expected to have two major components.

  • First, to target the entire population, with a focus on mothers and other caregivers of children under the age of five
  • Second, to focus specifically on schools and school-age children, who themselves are often caregivers of their younger siblings.

As its first campaign on these issues, the celebration of Global Handwashing Day provided momentum to further define Namibia’s National Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Policy, Strategy and Action Plan.

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