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Clean and healthy Pakistan is the top priority of our party: Rana Farooq

Islamabad, October 15, 2012 (PPI-OT): Clean and healthy Pakistan was the dream of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto Shaheed this is why our party gives priority to Health and Sanitation. Our party is committed to achieving the goal of healthy and educated Pakistan. Good health and Good education are the only two things which guarantee the progressive Pakistan.

We can go to any extent in order to achieve our goals. We need to strengthen the basic health facilities because most of our population lives in rural areas. Our Shaheed leader started Lady Health Worker’s program which was recognized world over.

Millions of people in Pakistan and around the world are observing Global Handwashing Day today, which aims to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent disease. This message is particularly vital for the people who are affected by the current monsoon flood, many of whom are children at increased risk of contracting diseases like diarrhoea.

According to World Bank’s Strategic Environmental Assessment report, Pakistan is losing Rs. 365 billion on account of Environmental degradations and out of this Rs. 112 billion alone is accounted due to unsafe delivery and disposal of Water and Sanitation in the country.

Further high rate of water borne disease such as diarrhea, hepatitis, Malaria, infant mortality are caused by lack of proper water and sanitation waste. Pakistan cannot acquire the status of polio free country without improving delivery and disposal of water and sanitation systems. Between 5-10% of all children under the age of five living in poor countries develop pneumonia.

In Pakistan alone more than 250,000 children die due to diarrhoea-related diseases every year and over 40% of the hospital beds are occupied by patients suffering from water-borne diseases. In Pakistan, projected population growth for the next 10 years is estimated to increase by 40% to 250 million from the current 180 million. Hence the demand potential for safe drinking water, improved hygiene and adequate sanitation facilities will also dramatically increase manifold, thus overburdening the poor health infrastructure and the insufficient budget allocated to health.

There is a vital and close link between water-borne diseases and lack of safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation. These are three vital pillars of good health that need an integrated strategy. Not washing hands at critical times particularly before eating and after using the toilet, can lead to diarrhoea-related infections, typhoid, cholera, gastroenteritis, and also to Hepatitis A and E. Regular hand washing with soap reduces acute respiratory infections, pneumonia, and diarrhoea-related diseases in children under five years of age by over 50%. Global Hand Washing Day [GHD] is dedicated to raising awareness of hand washing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention that can contribute to a significant reduction in child morbidity and mortality by more than 50%, thus dramatically saving billions in terms of health and economic costs each year.

Practice of hand washing with soap in Pakistan is alarmingly low in the rural areas. In a District-Based Multiple Cluster Survey of South Punjab done with the collaboration of UNICEF, it was found that in Bhakkar District more than 56% of the population did not wash their hands with soap. In Mianwali District, over 42% of the population did not wash their hands with soap at critical times. In Pakpattan District more than one-third of the population did not practice hand washing with soap. It is more a question of social behaviour rather than the price of soap.

“It is interesting to note that there is a strong and positive correlation between not washing hands with soaps and the incidence of diarrhoea”, said the secretary. He quoted the example of Dera Ghazi Khan where more than 36% of the population did not wash hands with soap, it was found that more than 52% of the children under five were suffering from diarrheal infections.

In rural Punjab, the same study found that about 24% of the children under the age of five were suffering from different episodes of diarrhoea. The story of urban Punjab is not pleasing either. More than 21% of the children under five were found to be suffering with different diarrheal infections.

Global Hand Washing Day 2012 will revolve around activities in playgrounds, classrooms, community spaces and public places to drive the hands washing with soap campaign to trigger a behaviour change in children on a massive scale.

In Pakistan only a few multinational companies, such as Unilever and P and G, have adopted the social marketing approach and have run short but effective educative animated cartoon commercials and school-based campaigns to communicate the message of hand washing with soap to school children to wash their hands with soap. Unfortunately, the majority of the soap manufacturers are still focused on beauty and skincare as the unique selling proposition in their marketing strategy, thus being strategically blind to a much bigger and lucrative rural market segment that does not wash hands with soap

The defunct Ministry of Environment has taken the lead in framing the National Sanitation Policy (2006), the National Drinking Water Policy (2009), and in formulating the National Behavior Change Communication Strategy for Hygiene Promotion.

These policies are being elaborated in the provinces and Federal territories as operational strategies to enable coordinated and effective implementation. Hand washing with soap is a key part of our Behavioural Change Communication Strategy and now Ministry of Climate Change is more committed to enhance its efforts with its partners to improve the sanitation facilities in the country.

Senior officials of Ministry of climate change and UNICEF also participated in the event.

For more information, contact:
Haji Ahmed Malik
Principal Information Officer
Press Information Department (PID)
Tel: +9251 925 2323 and +9251 925 2324
Fax: +9251 925 2325 and +9251 925 2326
Email: piopid@gmail.com

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