The fact that WaterAid Ghana and its partners were attending a mid-year review workshop at Kumasi as the global community marked Handwashing Day on Friday, did not deter them from marking and observing the day themselves.
Even though the national celebration was held at Ho, the Volta Regional capital, the over 40 participants attending the mid-year review workshop created space in their loaded programme to observe the worldwide celebration, which had as its local theme, “Saving Lives Through Handwashing.”
This they did, by donning ‘T’ shirts and caps made to commemorate the day, practicing proper handwashing at critical moments such as meal time and after using the washroom, and also engaging in a mini celebration, by listening to a statement from the representative of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) at the workshop.
In the statement to mark the Day, Mr. Kweku Quansah, a Programme officer of the Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate (EHSD) of the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development (MLGRD), explained that the local theme was chosen “because children, especially after five years – close to about 50,000, die as a result of diarrhoea, of which close to 88% are the underlying causes of lack of handwashing by their mothers, by their siblings etc.”
“So the emphasis is on how we can save lives through handwashing with soap,” Mr. Quansah added.
Informing the workshop that the national celebration was ongoing at the same time at the Mfodjo Park in Ho, the EHSD Programme Officer communicated that the national durbar was expected to be addressed by the Vice President John Mahama and also involve a lot of political activities.
He also disclosed to the workshop that simultaneously with the national durbar, there was ongoing, another launch of the Day sponsored by USAID, a United States aid agency and CHF, an organisation concerned with behavioural change, in Accra at the British Council Hall, to enable those who could not take part in the Ho programme still take part in activities marking the day in Ghana.
Mr. Quansah also divulged that other sanitation activities had been planned, such as sanitation advocacy competition activities, explaining, “we want to have what we call the pledge support in global handwashing.”
He elucidated that the pledge support will entail a request of the support of all who attend the national launch to pledge their support for global handwashing in the course of the year, adding that the national celebration also involved a national dialogue for children, which took place in Ho the previous day, October 14.
The programme, he expatiated, brought school children together to express their views on handwashing, saying that radio and television programmes on handwashing will continue this week on some TV and radio stations in the country.
Mr. Quansah also spoke of handwashing stations that will be mounted at markets, lorry stations and other public places across the country, to educate people on the observance of proper handwashing as part of the education drive of his outfit and urged all partners to take part in the activities lined up.
By Edmund Smith-Asante