A simple act of hand washing with soap before eating food and after defecation can prevent 15-20% of child deaths every year. This is equivalent to saving about 6,000 children from death every year in Jharkhand. The major killers of children are pneumonia and diarrhea. About 30% of pneumonia incidence and 40% of diarrhea cases can be prevented by washing hands with soap.
This information was given by Job Zachariah, Chief, UNICEF Jharkhand while addressing students of Loyola school & ADL Sunshine Schools in Jamshedpur to mark the Global Hand Washing Day celebrations. Hand washing with soap can also prevent typhoid, worm infestation, jaundice and skin & eye infection. Besides preventing death and diseases among children, it will avoid school days lost due to illness. Hand washing with soap before eating and after defecation is one of the major objectives under the newly launched Swach Bharat Mission.
Stating that children are powerful agents of change in family and community, Mr. Zachariah sought the support of students to promote this practice. “If a daughter asks her father to wash his hands before eating food, which father will ignore it”, he asked.
One crore virus in dirty hand
A dirty hand has one crore viruses and 10 lakh bacteria. Although many people wash hands with water, only a few wash hands with soap. In India, only half (53%) wash their hands with soap after defecation and 38% wash their hands before taking food as per a study conducted by Indian Public Health Association in 2008. A study conducted by the Ministry of Rural Development in 2009 found that 42% children were aware of the need to wash hands with soap but only 12% of schools had soap for hand washing.
Kumar Premchand, WASH Specialist, UNICEF said that handwashing with soap is the most cost effective and simple way to prevent diseases.
Father Fr. Sebastian Puthenpura, Principal of Loyola School; Fr. Jaison Joshua, Vice Principal of Loyola School and Ms. Indrani Singh, Principal of ADL Sunshine School, Jamshedpur and Ms. Moira Dawa, Communication Officer UNICEF were present at the event.