Global Handwashing Day: Soap use termed best deterrent to infectious diseases

Pakistan’s failure to achieve MDGs on sanitation and hygiene criticised.


Our Correspondent October 14, 2014

ISLAMABAD: Health experts have said handwashing with soap could be the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent deaths from infectious diseases.

They were speaking at a gathering at the National Press Club on Tuesday to mark the Global Handwashing Day, observed annually on October 15. On the occasion, a three-month awareness campaign to improve sanitation and hygiene conditions across Pakistan also kicked-off.

The nation-wide campaign is part of a three-day national conference on sanitation conducted by the Climate Change Division in collaboration with provincial governments and key development partners.

Representatives from national and international organisations working with the government expressed serious reservations over Pakistan’s non-seriousness in meeting the Millennium Development Goals regarding sanitation and hygiene.

They said the lives of several children under five could be saved through handwashing with soap. It is estimated that more than 43 million people defecate in the open in Pakistan and do not wash their hands with soap afterwards.

“In Pakistan there is a need to change the attitude and behaviour of people towards improving their personal hygiene,” said World Bank’s Water and Sanitation Programme Country Team Leader Farhan Sami.

Pakistan Institute for Environment Development Action Research President Syed Ayub Qutub said, “There are many schools that do not have proper wash rooms or soaps which is worrisome.”

Irfan Tariq from the Climate Change Division said, “In Pakistan people spend huge amount of money on treatment of diseases that could be easily prevented through proper hand washing with soap.”

Nosheen Usman from the World Health Organisation said, “handwashing with soap is just like vaccinating yourself against all the infectious diseases.”

Maryam Aurangzeb, MNA, asked the media to disseminate the message of improving personal hygiene.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 15th, 2014.

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