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Handwashing can protect children and the nation’s future

Photo courtesy of the Department of Education Multimedia Department
Handwashing with soap is the most cost-effective way to protect oneself from diseases. UNICEF, together with government partners, celebrated Global Handwashing Day on 15 October 2017.

MANILA, 2 November 2017— UN children’s agency UNICEF joins government and private sector partners in the 2017 Global Handwashing Day celebrations themed “Our Hands, Our Future.” This year’s theme highlights the importance of handwashing to protect the health and future of individual children and the nation.

UNICEF joined government agencies such as the Department of Health, local governments such as Camarines Norte, Puerto Princesa and Cotabato City, and companies such as Procter & Gamble Philippines, Manila Water and Maynilad in celebrations across the country.

“Handwashing with soap at critical times – before eating and after using the toilet – is one of the most cost-effective ways people can protect themselves and their families from disease-causing germs and bacteria. Children who wash their hands are healthier and grow up to become more productive adults able to contribute to nation-building,” UNICEF Philippines Deputy Representative Julia Rees says.

Global research shows that almost half (47%) of all diarrheal diseases and 16% of respiratory infections are preventable by proper handwashing with soap. This is particularly relevant to the Philippines, where acute respiratory infections are the primary cause of death of children under five, while diarrhea remains the third largest cause of death of the same age group.

©UNICEF Philippines/2017/Norman Gagarin
Handwashing with only water is not sufficient. Using soap, no matter what kind, during handwashing helps kill the bacteria and germs that are in the hands. UNICEF advocates for the practice of group handwashing with soap, to help children develop the habit of handwashing with soap during critical times, especially after using the toilet and before eating.

Even when children survive these infections, repeated bouts of diarrhea have a profound impact on the nutritional status of young children, especially during their first 1,000 days, leading to irreversible stunting or poor physical and mental growth in the long term.

UNICEF helps the Department of Education, Department of Interior and Local Government, the Early Childhood Care and Development Council, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development implement policies promoting proper hygiene practice in schools and day care centres nationwide, especially for children in the most disadvantaged areas in the country.

“Our experience shows that educating children about proper hygiene and sanitation can deliver positive change at home, in school, and across the entire community. Instilling good hygiene habits at an early age will reap a lifetime of positive rewards,” Louise Maule, UNICEF Philippines’ Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme says.



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