Hygiene and sanitation education will reduce deaths among children aged below five years, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has said. She said improving access to clean water will reduce disease related deaths among children.
She was speaking during the annual Lifebouy Global Hand Washing Day at Kilimani Primary School, in Nairobi yesterday. Margaret said hand washing with soap can reduce the risk of diarrhoea and related deaths by about 45 per cent.
"There are two million children who never reach their 5th birthday every year as a result of diarrhoea and pneumonia. Many of these deaths are easily preventable through simple practices like hand washing with soap" she said.
The event was sponsored by Unilever.
The First Lady noted with satisfaction that the defunct Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation in collaboration with Unilever and other agencies managed to wash hands of over 1.5 million children in Kenya last year.
"We are gathered here today because our consciences have been pricked into action. We are forced to act because families in Kenya and across the world continue to lose their precious children, to diseases that can be prevented by a simple hand-wash," the First Lady said.
She lauded Unilever for its efforts in seeking solutions to infant mortality, saying the goal to make 1 billion people wash their hands by 2015 was achievable.
"As we play our part in helping people and families across the world take small steps towards better health, we make a giant leap for humanity. In this case, we shall let the little children lead us," the First Lady said.
Unilever global chief executive officer Paul Polman said his company has already covered 130 million children in the hand washing campaign globally. The company targets 1 billion children by 2015, he added.
He pledged to finance a water project at the Kilimani Primary School to guarantee children at the institution access to constant clean running water.
Hundreds of school children took part in the awareness-raising activities including pledges on washing hands with soap as a cost-effective lifestyle to prevent diseases.
The global campaign, spearheaded by Unilever, is aimed at educating Kenyans and the world to embrace the simple practice to prevent diarrhea and acute respiratory diseases that are still a leading killer for children in Kenya and globally.