Ghanaians have been advised to regard hand washing with soap as priority in order to avoid a wide range of illnesses including cholera and diarrheal.

Diarrhoeal diseases and respiratory infections are responsible for greater percentage of child deaths in the country.

Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Hon. Cecilia Abena Dapaah, made this known during this year’s Global Handwashing Day Celebration which took place at Agbogbloshie Market, in Accra.

According to the Sector, food borne illnesses are major causes of death particularly among children under 5 years. Up to 70% of cases of diarrheal may be associated with poor food hygiene.

This she said, negative effect of undernutrition due to poor food hygiene during the first 1,000 days of physical growth immune system and brain development may be irreversible.

“The contamination of food items with faecal matter can easily occur if you do not have the habit of automatic hand washing with soap and water,” she added.

This she said, her outfit will embark on sensitization activities at places like hospitals, schools and markets across the country to reinforce the practice of hand-washing with soap.

This she said, the sensitization is expected to bring to the forth unhygienic practices that affect proper handling of food.

And also, encourage the masses to religiously practice hand-washing with soap at all critical times.

It is common in our markets and communities to observe the following practices that negatively affect our health;

• Food items displayed on the bare floor
• Selling food items by refuse dumpsites and therefore expose to flies
• Food vendors selling food without washing their hands
• Food sellers serving food to customers with bare hands that have not been washed
• Touching food or sharing food without washing the hands after handshaking during festivals, funerals, outdoorings among others
• Children not washing their hands before eating
• Food not properly stored and properly cooked

“You will agree with me that as busy people in our markets especially those of you who deal in the food and foodstuffs, you have a very critical role to play in ensuring our food is safe, you are expected to contribute to the total health and wellbeing of the larger population,” she advised.

Chief Executive of Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) Ing Worlanyo Kwadjo Siabi, commended the Ministry for Sanitation and Water Resources for launching the
Global Handwashing Day in 2008.

“The campaign has been very fruitful, and currently, there is a high awareness but the practice of hand-washing has increased only about 30%,” he stated.

The challenge has been transforming handwashing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behavior performed in homes, schools, and communities.

This he said, the main aim of this year’s Global
Handwashing Day is to shift the increased awareness towards sustainable behavioral change
with focus on practice.

“I urge you all to support the “Truly Clean Hands’ initiative to sustain behavioural change
through sensitization at all levels starting from our homes to the communities, schools
markets, lorry parks, eating places, funerals etc. It is expected that the promotion and the
practice will continue after today’s event,” he advised.

The event was supported by Community Water and Sanitation Agency, Environmental Health and Sanitation Directorate, GAMA Sanitation and Water Project, UNICEF, Water Aid, Plan Ghana, World Vision, USAID, Global Communities, Rural Water Supply of Church of Christ, National School Health Education Programme (SHEP), CONIWAS, Zoom foundation, and others.

Source: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/newsghana.com.gh

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