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October 15, 2015

53,000 children die in Pakistan due to diarrhoea

Islamabad

October 15, 2015

Islamabad
As world commemorates Global Handwashing Day today (Thursday), Pakistan deals with the deaths of 53,000 children under five years of age because of diarrhoea -- a disease that can be averted up to 16 per cent only with handwashing.
Global Handwashing Day (GHD) is a campaign on October 15 each year to motivate and mobilise people around the world to wash their hands with soap as a key approach to disease prevention. According to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2013, almost 53,000 children under five years of age die because of diarrhoea-a disease which is directly linked with poor quality water, sanitation and hygiene especially hand washing. Out of every 1,000 live births, almost 104 children die before reaching their fifth birthday. Lives can be saved by improved water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and provision of access to health services. Various studies and researches have proved that the hand washing with soap can avert the incidence of diarrhoea and pneumonia by up to 16 per cent whereas in Pakistan people spend huge amount of money on treatment of diseases that could be easily prevented through proper hand washing with soap.
According to the World Health Organisation, providing soap and improving hygiene practices can cut cases of diarrhoea by up to 53 per cent. This speaks volumes about the importance of water, sanitation and hygiene in our lives. This day, which is indeed a global advocacy day will not increase awareness, but also enhance understanding about the importance of handwashing.
In a nutshell, it means preventing waterborne diseases and saving lives by an affordable way for poorest and most vulnerable. Handwashing with soap at critical times, especially before eating and after contact with excreta, can not only reduce diarrhoeal disease but also the prevalence of eye infections like trachoma and conjunctivitis by approximately 45 per cent and respiratory infections by about 20 per cent.

Hygiene practices during delivery and postpartum (the period just after delivery), particularly handwashing with soap or equivalent, have been reported to reduce neonatal mortality.
On this occasion, the WaterAid is calling on officials to “finish the job” and ensure an indicator on handwashing is included as a measure of progress for the goal on water and sanitation for all, to help achieve the full health benefits. WaterAid Country Representative Siddiq Ahmed Khan said that every day across the world, 1,400 children under five die from diarrhoea caused by dirty water and poor sanitation and hygiene. “We are now one step closer in ensuring such tragedy will be a thing of the past with the recent agreement of the Global Goals, which aim to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030.”
He said that WaterAid is calling for the vital role of handwashing to be included as an indicator for Goal 6, which works towards ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all. “Frequently overlooked, hygiene, and in particular handwashing, make a massive difference to the health and wellbeing of the global population. Furthermore, handwashing is recognised as one of the most cost-effective development interventions by the World Bank,” he said.

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