Monday November 29, 2021

Global handwashing day commemorated

October 16, 2021

Islamabad : Increase in handwashing with soap trend has been driven by fear during the early stages of pandemic, but fear based changes are short lived. Therefore there is a need to sustain these handwashing habits through additional motives.

The views were expressed at an event organised to commemorate Global Handwashing Day on Friday. The event was jointly organised by WaterAid Pakistan, GIZ and UNICEF. The event started with handwashing demonstration presented to the participants followed by panel discussion on the topic ‘Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together.’ The discussion panel comprised of experts from GIZ, UNICEF, WaterAid, Ministry of Health and Unilever.

The speakers said that 3.5 million children are globally effected from disease related to handwashing. According to statistics shared by WaterAid, in the midst of pandemic, 3 in 10 people worldwide did not have access to hand hygiene facility in their home. At the current rate of progress, only 78 per cent of people will have access to hand hygiene facility by 2030 leaving approximately 1.9 billion people unable to wash their hands.

“Pakistan Demographic Household Survey shows that 93 per cent of the household have access to handwashing. Only 59 per cent of household use soap for handwashing and one in 10 households don’t have water or soap. These are very alarming figures,” Seemi Ezdi, Chairperson Senate Committee on Climate Change while speaking at the event.

She said that it was the need of the time to proactively bring the issue of handwashing in forefront to build a conducive environment. “This can only be done through effective collaborations,” she said suggesting installment of handwashing stations at the entrance of all schools so that the habit of handwashing can be inculcated in them from childhood.

The event features panel discussion, speeches from different stakeholders, pledge wall signing and award distribution for social media campaign. The discussion panel comprised of experts from GIZ, UNICEF, WaterAid, Ministry of Health and Unilever. The panel of experts discussed the civil society perspective on hand hygiene for all, role of international development partners, and role of private sector in promoting hand hygiene. The panel discussion was followed by the award ceremony for the winner of GHWD Campaign by the Youth Wizards. Wajid Zahid won the prize and appreciation as his social media campaign attracted over 10,000 views.

GIZ country Director Marion Pfennigs shared his thoughts on the importance of handwashing. He stated that 3.5 million children globally effected from disease related to handwashing. “Handwashing offers most efficient response to pandemic as it removes germs, reduces health risk, prevent spread of germs and pathogen to others. Sanitation for million programs aims to raise awareness of handwashing habitat young age by providing handwashing facilities at school level. For this purpose, GIZ has been engaged with schools in organising various awareness activities and building infrastructure facilities in Balochistan region,” he shared.

Munawar Hassan, Head of Programmes for WaterAid highlighted the change in people’s attitudes towards hygiene. He said, “People’s own behaviour is a major barrier in adopting the handwashing practices therefore we need to be self-reflective on our hygiene practices and try to promote positive hygiene practices in our families, communities and workplaces.”

Handwashing is one of the core activities carried out with regard to safe hygiene. According to international research results, infections are transmitted in 80 per cent of the cases by hands. Therefore, handwashing is one of the most efficient response to pandemics and for infection control since it removes germs, reduces health risks, prevents the spread of germs and pathogens to others and is not costly.