Hand Washing with Soap: a simple gesture that saves lives but is not always accessible to everyone
Antananarivo, 25 October 2021 - Global Handwashing Day is celebrated every year to raise awareness of the importance of this simple but life-saving gesture. To mark this event, the Ministry of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (MEAH), along with the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Public Health, in partnership with UNICEF, launches a national campaign – “Hand hygiene for all”. With the slogan “Eo am-pelantanantsika ny ho avy, ndao hiaraka handray andraikitra” or “The future is in our hands, let’s move forward together”, the objective is twofold. On the one hand, the aim is to raise awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap and encourage people to practice this healthy behaviour systematically. On the other hand, the campaign aims to urge all actors working in the WASH sector to become more involved in the promotion of “Hand Hygiene for All”, particularly in order to make this simple gesture accessible to as many people as possible.
Indeed, Handwashing with Soap is one of the best ways to protect oneself and one’s family against all forms of disease. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this “barrier” gesture is the first line of defence to prevent the coronavirus. In terms of intervention, it is the most cost-effective because it can reduce the incidence of transmission of several chronic diseases associated with the lack of hygiene.
Easy, this practice is one of the most effective and the least expensive to prevent infectious diseases. However, obstacles persist in ensuring access thereto:
- In Madagascar, only one in four people have a Handwashing Device with Soap according to data from the MICS1 survey  in 2018,
- In addition, more than half of schools do not have clean water, soap and a place to wash hands.
- In administrative offices and high-traffic public places, existing handwashing facilities sometimes fail to meet user needs as they are already outdated and non-functional.
Thus, during this day, at the Carlton Hotel, a high-level advocacy is conducted under the leadership of the MEAH in order to engage all stakeholders towards the implementation of large-scale actions to promoting hand washing. A Hygiene for All charter was officially established and signed by all stakeholders. In his speech, the Minister reinforced his commitment to improve access to water for all, according to the Velirano 2 of the President of the Republic; to promote good hygiene practices, including handwashing with soap in such a way as to enable 90% of the Malagasy people to get used to washing their hands with clean water and soap by the end of the year 2023; and to allocate a budget for access to water and soap in order to ensure the practice of washing hands with soap and water for the benefit of the Malagasy population.
Moreover, he called for the continuity and strengthening of the collaboration of all stakeholders who were present to increase their efforts in promoting handwashing with soap to achieve this common goal linked to “hand hygiene for all”.
Several activities targeting the entire population will also be organized across the country to make Handwashing with Soap accessible and become a habit.
 1 Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey : Enquête par grappe à indicateurs Multiples réalisée en 2018.
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