More than just a day for Sri Lanka’s children

Friday, 15 October 2010 20:53 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

20,000 children across the country celebrate safe hand-washing

 Sri Lanka joins hands with the rest of the world in soaping up for the third annual Global Handwashing Day. In broad partnership, the Ministries of Education and Health are promoting hand-washing in schools across nine provinces in the country in collaboration with UNICEF.This year the theme of Global Hand Washing Day – more than just a day – aims to make the simple,

life-saving practice of washing hands with soap a regular habit long after the sun sets on October 15. More than 20,000 school children will participate in events island-wide promoting the practice of hand-washing with soap as an integral part of daily life.

“Hand washing with soap can play a critical role in reducing absenteeism among school children,” says Renuka Peiris, Director of Education at the Ministry of Education. “This habit will make them less vulnerable to diarrheal and acute respiratory infections and help boost school retention,” she said.

Speaking on the initiative, UNICEF Representative Reza Hossaini says: “Clean hands save lives, we are promoting proper hygiene habits in partnership with the Government to ensure better health for the nation’s children.”

Each year, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections are responsible for the deaths of more than 3.5 million children in the world. Washing hands with soap and water especially at the critical times -- after using the toilet and before handling food -- helps reduce the incidence of diarrhoeal disease by more than 40 per cent.

“This is the most effective and in-expensive way to mitigate the risk of disease, especially bowel diseases like dysentery, hepatitis and respiratory tract infections” says Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Director Health Education Bureau at the Ministry of Health.

Globally 80 countries and more than 200 million children will mark the day through events in schools and communities in an effort to curb disease, prevent death and help children to grow and thrive.