Addis Ababa October 27/2012 Ethiopia marked on Saturday the 5th Global Handwashing Day, which promotes the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective, simple, and inexpensive way to prevent the spread of life-threatening diseases and reduce child mortality. Speaking on the occasion Health State Minister, Dr. Kebede Werku said by making handwashing with soap a regular action, the public can prevent the spread of diarrheal diseases and the needles death of children. He urged the public to help children and young people change their behavior and consider handwashing with soap as a n important method to prevent the spread of diarrheal diseases. Education State Minister, Fuad Ibrahim on his part said because of the seldom practice of handwashing with soap, millions of children suffer disproportionately from diarrheal and respiratory diseases and deaths. According to him, the major cause for the spread of up to 80 percent of diarrheal disease in Ethiopia is lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene services. The country is working hard to raise the safe water supply in schools from the current 32 percent, as children are the most affected portion of the society by the spread of these diseases, he said. Child mortality figures released by UNICEF last month show that some 2,000 children under five die each day from diarrheal diseases. Of these the vast majority or about 1,800 children per day die from diarrheal diseases due to lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene. Though the number has significantly declined in the five years since Global Handwashing Day was established, UNICEF says it is still too high. As diarrheal diseases are basically faecal-oral in nature, one of the simplest and most inexpensive barriers to infection is handwashing with soap at critical times, such as before handling food and after defecation or changing a diaper. A vast change in handwashing behavior is critical to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015.
Source: Government of Ethiopia