City marks Global Hand Washing Day
LAHORE: Global Hand Washing Day was observed in capital metropolis on Monday with the aim to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases.
A number of awareness and information activities were held to instil and reinforce in everyone’s minds that the very simple act of washing hands with soap could save hundreds of thousands of children from sickness.
The first-ever Global Hand Washing Day was held on October 15, 2008. In 2008, the UN General Assembly designated the International Year of Sanitation and reinforced its call for improved hygiene practices.
This year’s theme for the day was ‘Help More Children Reach Their 5th Birthday’.
A ceremony was organised by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) at Alhamra Hall, which was attended by Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) Director Waseem Ajmal, Parks and Horticulture Authority Deputy Director Javed Shaida, ITA Programme Manager Imtiaz Nizami, Punjab Auqaf Department Deputy Secretary Fauzia Aziz and others.
Meanwhile, over 100 schools’ vice-captains, who were selected for the Healthy Pakistan Mission Campaign 2012, attended the ceremony. They performed tableaus and sang songs to highlight the importance of hand washing.
Speaking on the occasion, Waseem Ajmal said that as a cost-effective life-saving intervention, washing hands with soap could reduce the incidence of diarrhoea among children less than five years of age by almost 50 percent, and respiratory infections by nearly 25 percent.
“Schoolchildren must act as agents of change to promote the cause of cleanliness and prevent uncalled for diseases, as three million children die world over due to preventable diseases that emerge as a result of unhygienic conditions and germs,” he added.
Ajmal stressed that every child should adopt healthy practices and save himself/herself and other family members from different preventable diseases. He also lauded the children’s motivation towards practices of cleanliness.
Javed Shaida said the authority had controlled dengue in Lahore. He said that knowledge without practice was meaningless, adding that the PHA had planted over 15 million flowers including miles-long flowerbeds in the city. He said the Jashan-e-Baharran was just round the corner and would be celebrated at the international level.
Later, the best 20 vice-captains were awarded shields and certificates for effectively implementing the Healthy Pakistan Mission Campaign, led by cricketer Wasim Akram.
Another ceremony was held at Government Pilot Secondary School, Wahdat Colony, which was addressed by Health Parliamentary Secretary Dr Saeed Elahi, World Health Organisation (WHO) representative Dr Babar Alam and a large number of students.
Saeed Elahi said that diseases could be controlled by fostering the culture of hand washing with soap. He said the people, especially children, could be saved from fatal diseases like diarrhoea, dysentery, cough, sneezing, cholera and hepatitis by promoting the simple practice of washing hands, especially before preparing and eating meals.
He said that Islam laid a great emphasis on cleanliness, and by terming cleanliness as half portion of faith, it had eternalised the importance of cleanliness.
Dr Elahi said that it was highly essential to impart children and grown ups the right methods of washing hands, and called upon teachers to give lectures to children on cleanliness in zero periods.
Dr Babar Alam said that World Hand Washing Day was observed in more than 100 countries every year, which was participated by government institutions, civil society and NGOs working in the health sector. He said that by adopting the habit of hand washing on a permanent basis, one could be save from many diseases. He called upon women to wash their hands before preparing meals and feeding their child.
He said that it was not essential to use soap every time during washing hands; however, it was of additional benefit.