Larry Crisp, communications officer for the department of Water and Sanitation, Free State Region writes:
Most of us wash hands because our mother always nagged us to do it growing up.
If it was up to some, they would probably dig into their favourite meal without giving it a second thought. After all no one has ever died due to dirty hands, or have they?
The 2014 General Household Survey (GHS), a nationally representative inquiry into the lives of South Africans, showed that there were over 60 000 cases of child diarrhoea per month, and approximately
9 000 child diarrhoea deaths in the same year.
Mom did not nag for nothing after all.
Global Hand Washing Day is celebrated annually. It is a campaign to motivate and mobilise millions around the world to wash their hands with soap at critical times among children, caregivers and the general South African public, to curb preventable life threatening infections related to poor hygiene, and poor water and sanitation such as diarrhoea.
The date appointed by the United Nations as the official Global Handwashing Day is October 15.
This campaign can be credited with the reduction of mortality rates related to diarrhoeal, says Ziyanda Xokozela, sanitation manager for the Department of Water and Sanitation in the Free State.
Hand washing with soap has been proven as the single most effective way to prevent diarrhoea and other hygiene-related diseases.
“It always remains a challenge convincing communities to make washing hands with water and soap a habit in the household” says Xokozela.
“Many people believe that washing their hands with just water is enough, but using soap can remove germs which are then rinsed away with running water,” she says.
Global hand washing day will this year be celebrated on Monday under the theme “Make hand washing a habit”.
Xokozela says hands should be washed after visiting the toilet; after handling baby nappies and before handling food or feeding a child.
Hand washing from a common vessel should be discouraged at school and mass gatherings such as funerals and parties as this increases the rate of infections.
Running water is preferred instead of still water.
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