According to the Pakistan Demographic and Health Survey conducted in 2013, almost 53,000 children under five years of age die because of diarrhoea – a disease which is directly linked with poor quality water, sanitation and hygiene. Out of every 1000 live births almost 104 children die before reaching their fifth birthday. Lives can be saved by improved water sanitation and hygiene facilities and provision of access to health services. Various studies and researches have proved that the hand washing with soap can avert the incidence of diarrhoea and pneumonia by up to 16%.
Plan International Pakistan in collaboration with Housing, Urban Development & Public Health Engineering (HUD&PHED) – Government of Punjab, Water Aid and UNICEF organised Global Handwashing Day on 13th October, 2015 in Lahore.The event was attended by children, policy makers and civil society to mark the 8th commemoration of the event. Global Handwashing Day was first celebrated in 2008. Since then October 15 has become synonymous with the Day.
Honourable Minister HUD&PHED – Punjab, Malik Tanveer Aslam was the chief guest and the event was attended by members of the provincial assembly, and representatives from provincial government departments, local government and International NGOs.
Speaking at the event the Minister said: “We, as a developing country, face a number of challenges, for which we all have to work together to resolve. Poor hygiene practices like the simplest of all; not washing hands with soap, has a direct effect on everyone’s health, especially that of children.” He went to say: “Every day we lose 110 children under five years of age because of diarrhoea, a disease that can be prevented by practicing washing hands with soap before eating and after using the toilet.”
Honourable Finance Minister, Punjab Dr. Ayesha Ghaus Pasha, also a chief guest, in her speech said: “We cannot deny the importance of hygiene practices in our lives as this is one of the basic teaching of our religion. In this era of development and progress there is an urgent need to collaborate our efforts to inculcate improved hygiene behaviours in our future generations. This can only be done by providing an environment in schools and communities where children can learn and practice good hygiene. This will not only bring prosperity to the nation but will also help us to tread the path of development.
Representatives from Mobilink, a program partner of Plan International Pakistan, were also present at the event. Speaking on behalf of the Telco, Omar Manzur, Head of Corporate Communications said, “Pakistan has a high mortality rate linked to diarrhoea, which is a preventable disease provided the basic hygiene standards are met. Mobilink recognizes the need to educate masses, especially children, about benefits of the simple hygienic act of Hand Washing. We are committed towards the cause and continue to spread awareness about the ‘Global Handwashing Day’ through frequent messaging and on ground activities.”
Country Director of Plan International Pakistan, Rashid Javed said: “I want to thank the Government of Punjab, Water Aid, UNICEF and academia for their efforts to highlight the importance of hand washing. It is heartening to see that we are formalising our efforts more consistently to give our children a healthy environment, and this cannot be done without practicing hygiene, access to clean drinking water and improved sanitation.”