Ministry of Education, Guyana

Friday, 14 October 2011 19:22

Students observe Global Hand washing Day

The Education Ministry School Health Unit on Friday hosted 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 organised by the ministries of Education and Health with supported from the Pan American Health Organisation/ World Health Organisation (PAHO/WHO) was part of activities to observe Global Hand washing Day.


The concert featured songs and poems from pupils and short presentations from Heath Ministry, Adolescent Health and Wellness Director, Dr Marcia Paltoo and UNICEF Emergency Specialist, Ian Jones. The occasion was attended by scores of pupils from several primary schools in the city.

Both presenters emphasised the importance of washing the hands to avoid the spread of bacteria, and encouraged the pupils to make this practice an integral part of their lives.

Global Handwashing Day is observed on October 15.  Since its inception in 2008 – which was designated as the International Year of Sanitation by the UN General Assembly – Global Handwashing Day has been echoing and reinforcing the call for improved hygiene practices worldwide.

The guiding vision of Global Hand washing Day is a local and global culture of handwashing with soap. Although people around the world wash their hands with water, very few wash their hands with soap at critical moments (for example, after using the toilet, while cleaning a child, and before handling food).

Hand washing with soap is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrheal diseases and pneumonia, which together are responsible for the majority of child deaths, Education Ministry School Health Coordinator, Dionne Brown said. Every year, it is estimated that more than 3.5 million children do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of diarrhea and pneumonia. Yet, despite its lifesaving potential, hand washing with soap is seldom practiced and not always easy to promote.

The challenge is to transform hand washing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behaviour performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide. Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter. More hand washing with soap would make a significant contribution to meeting the millennium development goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015.


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