Tuesday, October 16, 2012


      Jakarta, Oct 16 (ANTARA) - Indonesia, together with around 70 other countries celebrated the fifth Global Handwashing Day on Monday (October 15) by mobilizing about 750,000 students in 2,147 elementary schools throughout the country to promote washing of hands.
      Washing hands with soap can help avoid diarrhoea, pneumonia and many other diseases that afflict children under the age of five, often causing death. Therefore, the theme for this year`s Global Handwashing Day was "Help More Children Reach Their 5th Birthday".
      Indonesia`s infant mortality rate is still high despite showing a downward trend in the past few years. Diarrhoea is the second leading cause of deaths of Indonesian children.
     Last year, the United Nations Children`s Fund (UNICEF) representative in Indonesia, Angela Kearney, said that the country`s infant mortality rate had reached 35 per 1,000 live births in 2011, a significant decline from 97 per 1,000 live births in 1991.
     The results of a health demography survey showed that 193,000 children lost their lives before the age of 5 each year, according to what Kearney said in Makassar.
     For Indonesia, this year`s theme of national handwashing day, however, was "Healthy Children Start from Healthy Hands", because washing hands is believed to be the easiest and cheapest way to prevent at least 10 health problems caused by germs.

During the national celebration in 2011, around four million children were involved in the handwashing campaign in the country`s 33 provinces.

This year, the handwashing day was observed in Jakarta, Kupang (East Nusa Tenggara), Sidoarjo (East Java), Medan (North Sumatra), Makassar (South Sulawesi), Bantul (Yogyakarta) and Ketapang (West Kalimantan).

In Jakarta, hundreds of elementary school students demonstrated how they wash their hands with soap at a function attended by Health Minister Nafsiah Mboi.

"The celebration is aimed at encouraging children to develop the habit of washing their hands with soap from an early age," Prof Tjandra Yoga Aditama, the chairman of the national handwashing event organizing committee, said.

"It is important to wash your hands with soap, particularly before meals, after using the toilet or after having contact with dirt or animals," Aditama added.

Adults also need to wash their hands before touching babies and preparing meals, as well as after changing diapers.

Washing hands with soap reduces the risk of contracting diarrhoea by 50 percent, according to Health Minister Mboi.

In addition to diarrhoea, other illnesses that can be prevented by washing hands with soap include sore throat, respiratory problems, skin irritation, prickly heat, red eyes, acne, body odour and typhoid.

"Sanitation is also crucial. Washing hands, combined with good sanitation, can reduce the risks of contracting diarrhoea, respiratory problems, bird flu and other infectious diseases by up to 94 percent," she said.

Therefore, Mboi added that children should develop the habit of washing their hands with soap from an early age.

"It is easier to develop a healthy lifestyle from childhood. It becomes more and more difficult to change habits as one gets older," she pointed out.

The UN General Assembly had declared 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation and October 15 as Global Handwashing Day, to promote improved hygiene practices.

According to UNICEF, diarrhoea and pneumonia are the two leading killers of children, accounting for 29 percent of deaths under the age of 5 globally- claiming more than two million lives each year.

Therefore, washing hands with soap and running water becomes obligatory to prevent infectious diseases such as diarrhoea which are transmitted through the hands.

According to Curtis V Cairncross S of the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, in an article titled "Effect of washing hands with soap on diarrhoea risk in the community: a systematic review", washing hands could reduce the risk of diarrhoea by 47 percent.

Washing hands with soap can also reduce the incidence of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) such as pneumonia by 23 percent.

According to a recent study in Nepal, washing hands by mothers and birth attendants was associated with a 40-44% reduction in neo-natal mortality rate in the country.

Dr Rosita Rivai, a Lifebuoy medical executive in Indonesia, said during the GLOBAL Handwashing Day celebration in Makassar that promotion of the habit of washing hands in schools can also play a role in reducing absenteeism among primary school children.

In China, Colombia and Egypt, primary school absenteeism due to diarrhoea or respiratory infections dropped between 20 percent and 50 percent as a result of better hand washing practices.

She emphasized the importance of the nation`s commitment to protect around 71.5 million children aged between 1 and 14 years old throughout Indonesia`s 33 provinces.

Besides, UNICEF believes that the very simple act of washing hands with soap can save hundreds of thousands of children every year.

Child mortality figures released by UNICEF last month showed that some 2,000 children under five die each day from diarrhoea. Of these, about 1,800 children per day die from water-borne diseases due to lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene.

As a private-public partnership campaign, Global Handwashing Day was co-founded by Lifebuoy five years ago.

"Global Handwashing Day is more than just a day," Therese Dooley, UNICEF`s senior advisor on sanitation and hygiene, said as quoted on the UNICEF website.

"We want the message to spread from children to families, communities and nations. Halting the spread of diarrhoea is not complicated or costly but it is critically important that washing hands with soap becomes routine for everyone," she stated.


(T.F001/A/KR-BSR/A/A014) 16-10-2012 18:04:44

No comments:

Post a Comment