Lilongwe — Government has challenged countries to view global hygiene as essential tool to implementing and accelerating development programmes.
Chief of Health Services in the Ministry of Health and Population, Dr Charles Mwansambo made the remarks Monday when he opened a four day first ever Water Aid Global Hygiene Conference at Sunbird Capital Hotel in Lilongwe whose theme is " Innovation , integration, scale sector strengthening and hygiene progress measurement."
He observed that no country could develop and implement its development programmes if its people continue to suffer from hygiene related diseases.
Mwansambo said the promotion global hygiene could help prevent water, sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) related disease and achieving the current Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number 6.2.
He said countries are been urged that by 2030, they need to achieve access to adequate and equitable sanitation and hygiene for all and end open defecation by paying attention to the needs of women and girls in those vulnerable situations,
The Chief of Health Services disclosed that WASH related diseases make up about 52 per cent of disease burden in hospitals and health facilities in the country.
"The Global Hygiene conference has come at a time when the Ministry has just finalized the national Sanitation and hygiene strategy that among other things aims at preventing WASH related diseases and promote good health among Malawians," Mwansambo stated.
He said government adopted the Community Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) in 2008 with an aim of making the country Open Defecation Free (ODF) by promoting sanitation and hygiene in the communities.
"Primarily its objective is to reduce sanitation related diseases. Maintaining good sanitation and hygiene is central to increasing quality of life and years of healthy life for our communities," Mwansambo added.
He said Malawi has made notable strides in realizing the SDG 6.2 by among other things declaring 111 Traditional Authorities out 268 ODF free which is 42 per cent and 17,981 villages out of 38,682 which stands at 46.2 per cent defecation free in short period of time.
"The percentage of households using hand washing facilities has gone up from 33 per cent in 2017 to 41 per cent in 2019. These activities which we are implementing in the area of WASH together with our partners such as Water Aid have already started bearing fruits," the Chief admitted.
He hoped that participants to the conference would share experiences and best practices on how they could overcome the challenges facing global hygiene.
Water Aid Country Director for Malawi, Mercy Masoo said her organization made a deliberate strategic choice to have hygiene programming as one of the critical areas to put more effort on.
She said Water Aid has made hygiene as global strategic area in all the countries in which they are operating to make the issue as priority area.
"This conference has brought all practitioners working on hygiene across the organization to share the work we have been doing in the past three years and see how far we have improved on our programming on hygiene," Masoo explained.
The conference has drawn 71 participants from 25 countries namely United Kingdom (UK), Nepal, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Ghana, Mali, Madagascar, Mozambique, Zambia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Uganda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Pakistan, Eswatini, India and host Malawi.