Global Handwashing Day is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. It is celebrated on 15th October each year and provides an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times.
Hand washing with soap and running water is critical in preventing and controlling communicable diseases including diarrheal diseases like typhoid, cholera, salmonella and even Ebola. Hand washing has the ability of reducing diarrheal disease incidence by 48%. Every year, Kenya loses close to 30,000 lives through incidents of diarrhoea. Diarrheal diseases cause 16% of deaths among children below five years in Kenya, second only to pneumonia. These paediatric deaths exceed those of AIDS, TB and malaria combined.
In 2010, the Government of Kenya renewed the fight against diarrheal disease by unveiling an updated national policy to manage and control diarrheal disease. The policy, which highlighted traditional and new interventions like Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS), breastfeeding, zinc, hygiene, and forthcoming interventions including rotavirus vaccines, shows Kenya’s commitment to addressing diarrheal disease through a comprehensive approach.
DSW joined other stakeholders in taking the hand-washing message to school children in Kiitini area of Machakos county. During the event, more than 900 pupils took part in hand washing demonstrations. The pupils were also given talks on the importance of proper hand washing, including how to make simple tippy taps (leaky tins) for using to wash their hands in areas without running water. Speaking during the event, DSW’s Joblin Omari emphasised on the importance of teaching children proper hygiene practices so as to ensure they grow up knowing how to take care of their health and sanitation issues.