CAPE TOWN – Global Handwashing Day is marked on the 15th of October each year to raise awareness about the importance of handwashing with soap. This year’s celebration holds greater significance as the Covid-19 pandemic sweeps through the world.
Handwashing with soap and water is one of the most important habits in preventing, contracting Covid-19 and spreading the coronavirus that causes the disease to others.
Even though handwashing with soap is one of the cheapest, simplest and most effective health interventions, more than 40 percent of health facilities have no water resources within 500 meters in sub-Saharan Africa.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warns that inadequate hygiene endangers key development goals in regions where the practice of handwashing with soap is dangerously low.
In a press release Sanjay Wijesekera, global head of UNICEF’s water, sanitation and hygiene programmes said: “Along with drinking water and access to toilets, hygiene particularly handwashing with soap is the essential third leg of the stool holding up the (Sustainable Development) Goal on water and sanitation,”
“From birth when unwashed hands of birth attendants can transmit dangerous pathogens right through babyhood, school and beyond, handwashing is crucial for a child’s health. It is one of the cheapest, simplest, most effective health interventions we have.”
The inaugural event focuses on children and schools, with the intention that children can act as agents of change by taking these lessons home to their families and communities.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has launched the #SafeHands challenge across their social media channels.
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