Global Handwashing Day observed

ISLAMABAD: “Good handwashing can prevent disease outbreaks, reduce school absences, and improve healthcare outcomes. Despite these benefits, handwashing with soap is practiced too rarely, and the results are tragic. Every year, 1.4 million children die from diarrhea or pneumonia. Infections cause 15% of newborn deaths. Handwashing with soap is an effective way to prevent these losses.” said Consultant Pediatrician at Shifa International Hospital Islamabad Dr. Ejaz Ahmed Khan.

An Awareness Seminar to mark Global Handwashing Day was organized by Shifa International Hospital in Shifa’s lush green lawn. This event aimed to promote handwashing with soap and to raise awareness about the importance of handwashing, encourage action to promote and sustain handwashing habit and to provide education on the importance of handwashing, and motivate people to wash their hands to ensure a healthy future.

Doctors, school children, their parents, teachers and residents of Rawalpindi and Islamabad attended the colorful show and awareness session to promote the healthy habit of hand washing particularly in children to prevent infections. The theme for Global Handwashing Day 2017 was ‘Our Hands, Our Future’, reminding us that handwashing protects our own health, but also allows us to build our own futures, as well as those of our communities, and the world.

Dr. Ejaz said that handwashing with soap is an effective way to prevent disease, but still is not practiced as often or as thoroughly as it should be. While addressing the audience of the event, he stressed that simple handwashing with soap at critical times, such as after using the toilet or before eating can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among children under five by nearly half and respiratory infections by approximately 25%. ‘Good hygiene is necessary for good nutrition, particularly for children, and to prevent the spread of common diseases like cold and flu’, he said.

Ms. Ruth Samuel, Associate Manager, Infection Control SIH said that according to Austrian survey One in five parents don’t tell their kids to wash their hands after going to the toilet. 10 million bacteria luck between finger tips and elbow. Damp hands spread 1000 times more germs than dry hands and Germs can stay alive on hands for up to three hours. She encouraged the participants to adopt healthy hygienic habits and washing hands regularly to stay healthy.

Dr. Amir Iftikhar, Director Critical Area SIH said that handwashing is an affordable, effective way to achieve these goals. For example, handwashing with soap could prevent many of the 272 million yearly schooldays lost to diarrheal disease, and 50% of the infections acquired in healthcare settings.

Handwashing with soap has the power to improve access to education for children, protect the health of patients and communities, and reduce inequities. It has an important role in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals—contributing to zero hunger, good health, quality education, reduced inequalities, and more. Efforts on Global Handwashing Day to promote the benefits and practice of handwashing with soap, as well as fostering access to and improving hygiene facilities, will help us work towards a future where that potential is realized, he said.