Take (clean) hands against poor hygiene

2018-10-17 06:05

The 2014 General Household Survey (GHS), a nationally representative inquiry into the lives of South Africans, showed that there were over 60 000 cases of childhood diarrhoea per month, and approximately 9 000 child diarrhoea deaths in the same year.

This has been highlighted by the Department of Water and Sanitation in promoting Global Handwashing Day, which is celebrated annually. The date appointed by the United Nations for Global Handwashing Day is 15 October.

This campaign motivates and mobilises children, caregivers and people all over the world to wash their hands with soap at critical times.

This is also aimed at curbing preventable life-threatening infections related to poor hygiene and poor water and sanitation, such as diarrhoea.

Ziyanda Xokozela, sanitation manager in the Department of Water and Sanitation’s Office in the Free State, said this campaign could be credited with a reduction in the mortality rate related to diarrhoea-related diseases.

Washing hands with soap has been proven as the single most effective way to prevent diarrhoea and other hygiene-related diseases.

“It always remains a challenge convincing communities to make washing hands with water and soap a habit in the household,” said Xokozela.

“Many people believe that washing their hands with just water is enough, but using soap can remove germs, which are then rinsed away with running water.”

This year’s Global Handwashing Day was celebrated under the theme “Make Hand Washing a Habit”. Xokozela said that one’s hands should be washed after visiting the toilet, after handling baby nappies and before handling food or feeding a child.

Washing hands in a common vessel should be discouraged at schools and at mass gatherings such as funerals and parties, as this increases the rate of infections.

People are further reminded that running water is preferred instead of still water.

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