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Fiji joins millions celebrating Global Handwashing Day worldwid

© UNICEF Pacific/Jhing/2010
Mother teaching her son how to wash his hands.

Suva, 15 October 2012 - Now more than ever, children in Fiji have access to safe clean drinking water and sanitation facilities.  This has significantly reduced infant mortality rates for the nation. Today, Fiji joins hundreds of millions of people around the world in celebrating Global Handwashing Day with the aim of increasing awareness and understanding of the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to reduce preventable deaths of children under the age of five.

UNICEF Pacific Representative Dr. Isiye Ndombi said: “There is much cause for celebration this year. In 2011, 600,000 fewer children under five died globally than in 2008 when the first year Global Handwashing Day was celebrated. Today, Global Handwashing Day will share its fifth birthday with more than 121 million children who are also turning five this year.”

The Fiji Ministry of Health together with support from UNICEF, Colgate Palmolive and Live and Learn, will today be hosting a special event at Dilkusha Girls School to celebrate Global Handwashing Day. Hundreds of children, government officials and partners will be attending this event and will join millions around the world in celebrating Global Handwashing Day. 

Explaining the importance of handwashing with soap, Dr. Isiye Ndombi said: “In Fiji, 17 out of every 1,000 children born still die before their fifth birthday. Many of these deaths are avoidable with pneumonia and diarrhea still accounting for a significant proportion of preventable illnesses.” Handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective interventions that can significantly reduce the incidence of diarrhea among children under five by almost 50 percent, and reduce respiratory infections by nearly 25 percent.

“UNICEF’s goal is that no child is left behind and we are committed to continue working closely with the Government of Fiji and other key partners and stakeholders in the Pacific to ensure that no child dies from preventable diseases. Whether you are a politician, a community leader, a parent, a teacher or a student – together we can do our small part and help more children of Fiji and across the Pacific to survive to their fifth birthday and beyond” Dr. Ndombi said.

UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit:
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For further information, please contact:
Vika Waradi, UNICEF Pacific Communication Officer,  ph: +679 3300 439/ +679 3236 100,
email:, or Tomas Jensen, UNICEF Pacific Communication Specialist, ph: : +679 3300 439/ +679 3236 100, email:



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