Monrovia — In Liberia, Hygiene and Sanitation is a national crisis. Feces and garbage are found stockpiled in market places, while many homes are without decent latrine.
On Monday, Liberia joined the world over to celebrate Hand washing Day to shed light on a sector given limited attention.
The celebration focused on the link between hand washing and food including food hygiene and nutrition. The National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Commission highlighted the role that clean hands can play in preserving and saving lives.
The WASH Commission said, in a release, that the benefits of hand washing go beyond protecting one's own health.
"Good hand washing can prevent disease outbreaks as was observed during the Ebola epidemic, reduces absenteeism in schools and workplaces, as well as improve productivity and healthcare outcomes," the commission stressed in a release.
Hand washing is an important element of food safety, disease prevention and has been proven to contribute to the healthy growth of children.
The commission's theme, " Be part of the sanitation solution: Tackling poverty and improving hand hygiene go hand in hand," intends to remind Liberians that hand washing is a vital part of fighting poverty.
The Commission's Chairman and CEO Hon. Bobby Whitfield used the release to caution Liberians, calling on them to take action in preventing the spread of disease.
The commission noted that observing the day "offers us an opportunity to celebrate, to debate policies, challenges and the monitoring of behavior in different settings, and discuss cost-effective sanitation interventions that could prevent diseases and Liberian lives every year."
It added that clean hands reduce the burden of disease by preventing the spread of harmful germs.
"As part of the Weah-led government's "Pro-Poor" Agenda for prosperity and development, we must all play our role in stopping the spread of harmful bacteria," Whitfield said.
The Commission points out that hand washing globally is linked to a 47% reduction in risk of endemic diarrhea, 21% reduction in risk of acute respiratory infections, 50% reduction in risk of pneumonia, substantial reductions in new born infections and improved absorption of nutrients.
Whitefield added that government is committed to improving sanitation and that poor hygiene compliance remains a challenge.