WaterAid Ghana, a non-governmental organisation focused on improving access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), has urged the government to make the promotion of handwashing a priority to help improve hygiene.
Practicing proper hand hygiene, it said, irrespective of one’s geographical location and social or economic status, was the most effective way of preventing the spread of sanitation-related diseases such as cholera.
Ms Yvonne Kafui Nyarku, Communication and Campaign Officer at WaterAid Ghana, made the call at Bole on Tuesday at an event organised in partnership with PronetNorth to commemorate Global Handwashing Day, held on 15th October annually.
“Despite the critical importance of hygiene in healthcare, 29 percent of all healthcare facilities do not have access to water,” she said.
“Making sure that every patient and staff member can wash their hands with soap and clean will help prevent infections and the spread of diseases, whilst protecting staff and patients”.
Ms Nyarku noted that the theme for the event: “Clean hands for all”, was in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which sought to leave no one behind in the development drive.
She quoted Mr Abdul Nashiru Mohammed, Country Director for WaterAid Ghana, as saying that proper handwashing with soap under running water could be an everyday practice among the people if inequalities in access to WASH facilities, including potable water, persisted.
She also referenced Lui L, et al. Lancet, saying “lack of access to sanitation and poor hygiene contribute to approximately 88 percent of childhood deaths caused by diarrhoeal diseases.”
On his part, Mr Ato Quansah, Extension Service Specialist, Upper West Regional office of the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), entreated the public to make proper handwashing with soap under running water a habit to improve on their health.
He urged them to wash their hands before breast feeding their babies, after toilet, before cooking as well as before meals among others.
Mr Quansah noted that in efforts to promote proper handwashing in schools, the CWSA would provide handwashing facilities including soap to the Boli Basic School to encourage regular handwashing among the school children.
The school children and CWSA demonstrated proper handwashing during the event.
The SDG ‘3 seeks to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages” by 2030 while SDG 6 require member states to be signatories to the goals to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” by 2030.
But, achieving these goals requires sustained efforts by the government and development partners to ensure equitable and uninterrupted access to water at all levels.