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Promoting safe sanitation, particularly among children is vital for health of people: Speakers

Islamabad, October 15, 2012 (PPI-OT): Speakers at the Global Hand Washing Day (GHWD) 2012 event said that promoting safe sanitation and hygiene practices, particularly among children, is vital for overall health of the people. For, poor water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) leads a plethora of heath diseases among people of all ages.

“This is particularly critical for the thousands of people affected by the current monsoon flood emergency, many of whom are children at heighted risk of contracting diseases like diarrhoea, pneumonia and other diseases,” said Jawed Ali Khan, director-general (Environment) at the Ministry of Climate Change.

Addressing participants of the marathon event held here at the Islamabad Model High School in G-8/sector and organised by the Ministry of Climate Change in collaboration with Unicef, Mobilink and Pakistan Institute for Environment Development Action Research (PIEDAR), he said that GHWD marked every year on October 15 is reminder of the fact that the WASH sector is important for sustainable socio-economic development.

The GHWD is observed this year across the world including Pakistan under the theme ‘Clean hands, Save Lives’. It echo and reinforces the call for improved hygiene practices. The guiding vision of GHWD is to build a broad-based culture of hand washing with water and soap. While most people wash their hands, very few wash their hands with soap at critical times, i.e., after using toilets, while cleaning a child and before handing food.

Jawed Ali Khan told the participants that the ministry of climate change in accordance with its national sanitation policy and national behavioural change communication strategy intends to promote hygiene practices in Pakistan, mainly in rural areas which are reeling under most of the [water-borne] disease burden.

Head of Pakistan Institute for Environment Development action Research (PIEDAR) Ayub Qutub said that children are, he maintained, highly vulnerable to the diseases caused by a lack of effective sanitation and poor hygiene. And, more than 5,000 children under the age of five die every day in the world because of diarrheal diseases, caused in part by unsafe water, lack of access to basic sanitation facilities and poor hygiene.

“However, by washing hands with soap families and communities can help cut the child morbidity rates from diarrheal diseases by almost 50 per cent”, he said.

Dr. Simone Klawitter, chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) at the UNICEF in Pakistan, said that in Pakistan an estimated 10.8 per cent (116,103) children under five years die of diarrhoea yearly, translating to nearly 8 children deaths every one hour.

Quoting from a recent study, she said that there has been significant reduction in pneumonia related diseases by 50 per cent among children below five years.

Hygiene is particularly vital in an emergency such as a flood, but finding clean, safe running water can sometimes be difficult. Hand washing with soap and water after contact with faeces is one of t6he most important practices to promote as lifesaving intervention.

“Launching awareness raising programmes at, among others, community, school and mosque levels by engaging media can go a long way in helping promote culture of proper hand washing”, he emphasised.

Omar Manzur, Head of Corporate Communications at the Mobilink, said that corporate sector is playing its due part in socioeconomic uplift of the country and Mobilink is no way behind in supporting events like today’s. “Mobilink has remained actively engaged in helping flood, earth-quake-hit people and funding different local and international NGOs in Pakistan”, he said.

The first GWHD was celebrated on 15th October 2008 when the United Nations General Assembly designated the year 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation. The theme of hand washing with soap is focused on message to schoolchildren wash their hands with soap regularly.

Later, demonstrations of the proper hand washing were given by the schoolchildren and tables were performed by students of different schools through which they highlighted messages of practicing safe sanitation and hygiene.

For more information, Contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565
E-mail: moccpakistan@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.mocc.gov.pk/

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