Global Hand washing day is celebrated on October 15 since its inception in 2008 when the year was designated as International Year of Sanitation by the UN General Assembly. In observation of this day the Ministry of Education School Health Unit on Friday held a concert at the David Rose Special School on Thomas Lands, Georgetown to spread awareness among vulnerable groups about the importance of health hygiene and hand washing.
The initiative was organized by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health with support from the Pan American Health Organization/ World Health Organization (PAHO/ WHO).
The ministry in a press release stated that the concert which was attended by a number of primary schools from the city featured songs and poems by pupils and short presentations from Health Ministry, Adolescent Health and Wellness Director Dr Marcia Paltoo and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Emergency Specialist Ian Jones. Presenters emphasized the importance of washing the hands to avoid the spread of bacteria and encouraged students to make this practice an integral part of their lives.
Education Ministry, School Health Coordinator, Dionne Brown, who said that an estimated 3.5 million children do not live to see their fifth birthday annually because of diarrhoea and pneumonia, added that despite its lifesaving potential hand washing is seldom practiced.
The release states that although people wash their hands very few of them make use of soap at critical times, that is after using the toilet or before handling food. The challenge now is to transform hand washing with soap from an abstract good behaviour to an automatic behaviour performed in homes, schools and communities worldwide. It can save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention by cutting deaths caused by diarrhoea by almost half and deaths caused from acute respiratory infections by one quarter. More hand washing with soap would contribute significantly to the millennium goal of reducing deaths among children under five by two-thirds in 2015, if the practice of washing hands with soap before meals and after using toilet is imposed on our everyday life.