In view of the health implications associated with not washing hands with soap which include severe diarrhoea, cholera and pneumonia, especially among school children, the Second Lady of the Republic of Ghana, Mrs Matilda Amissah-Arthur, has called on all Ghanaians to see sanitation and hygiene in their proper perspectives.
According to her, this was important because sanitation was dignifying and good hygiene behaviour promotes a healthy society. She observed that hand washing with soap was a very simple act that could save many lives, especially the lives of children.
Quoting from World Health Organisation's statistics, Mrs Amissah-Arthur says diarrhoeal diseases kill between two to three million children globally every year, while in Ghana, statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that diarrhoea is one of the major causes of death and illness among children, especially those under five years.
The Second Lady was speaking during the launch of Global Hand Washing Day on Monday in Accra. The event was on the theme Five Years of Global Handwashing Day celebration: Going beyond the 5th Birthday of Children.
She further explained that reducing the incidence of diarrhoea in the country could significantly reduce the burden of health care on families, especially the time mothers spend looking after a child with diarrhoea.
She noted that handwashing, if effectively applied, provided a key support to the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Mrs Amissah-Arthur reminded the general public that though this year's celebration was child-centred , everybody was a target because clean hands were good for everyone. She therefore admonished all to adopt handwashing with soap as a way of life.
In a speech read on his behalf, Mr Clement Bugase, Chief Executive of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), said the CWSA had since 2001provided the anchor for the promotion of handwashing with soap under its mandate for water and sanitation delivery and hygienic promotion.
He said that in 2003 a communication campaign under the slogan 'For Truly CLEAN Hands Wash with Soap' was initiated to promote hand washing with soap, particularly among mothers and care-givers of children under five years.