Unilever Ghana Limited has marked this year’s Global Hand Washing Day with a handwashing festival at the Independence Square in Accra.
Dubbed ‘High5 for handwashing – Give us a high5 and we’ll teach 5 kids handwashing’, the event’s objective was to teach one million children in the country the proper way of washing hands.
Global Handwashing Day, which was co-founded by Unilever through its Lifebuoy soap brand, is aimed at promoting handwashing with soap under running water among children – especially those aged five and below – as a way to combat diarrhoea and cholera diseases responsible for the deaths of over 10,000 children in Ghana every year.
This year’s theme focuses on handwashing as an important part of keeping food safe, preventing diseases, and helping children grow strong. The theme, ‘Clean hands – a recipe for health’, therefore reminds us to make handwashing a part of every meal.
This year’s event in Accra attracted over 6,000 people, including children, and was characterised by poetry recitals, plays and the inauguration of hygiene champions to reinforce the call for improved hygiene practices in our homes, schools and communities so as to prevent diarrhoea and hygiene-related diseases.
The schoolchildren, teachers and their families who took part in the event made a pledge to wash their hands with soap under running water every day. There was a demonstration on the proper ways of washing hands with soap and water.
The Second Lady, Mrs. Samira Bawumia, commended Unilever Ghana for taking such giant steps to promote good health and hygiene habits among the Ghanaian populace through its High5 for handwashing campaigns.
“Indeed, health is wealth. Without a healthy population, our efforts at national development will not yield the desired results,” she stated.
Mrs. Bawumia said the Samira Empowerment and Humanitarian Projects (SEHP) has also set itself the objective of empowering underprivileged in Ghana through diverse social interventions to improve lives, and pledged to work with Unilever Ghana to guarantee a better life for them.
The Minister-designate for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Morrison, indicated that her ministry will explore the possibility of partnering with Unilever to extend the initiative to other regions in coming years. She noted that: “Children love to play, and they expose themselves to all kinds of germs when they do. A conscious effort to heighten their awareness about handwashing with soap under running water before breakfast, lunch, dinner; and after visiting the toilet and during daily baths is no doubt a sure way to prevent our children from contracting diarrhoeal diseases”.
Speaking at the event, the Managing Director of Unilever Ghana Limited, Mr. Ziobeieton Yeo, said handwashing with soap under running water is one of the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent diarrhoea-related diseases. He noted: “Lifebuoy is a hygiene soap that prevents infection through proper handwashing. Through our Lifebuoy soap brand, we have provided hygiene products which include bar and liquid soaps. We have taken it upon ourselves to help communities around the world improve their hygiene through handwashing – hence our decision to be a founding partner of the Global Handwashing Day initiated in 2008”.
According to him, Unilever introduced the school programme called ‘School of 5’ to educate kids on the importance of handwashing and the proper way of doing it: “The introduction of hygiene champions in this year’s campaign is a further step in extending this initiative to our communities,” Mr. Yeo emphasised.
This year’s event was scaled-up, as there was a concurrent event in Cape Coast to commemorate the Day. Other dignitaries present at the event were the Deputy Minister for Education, Barbara Asher Ayisi; Deputy Minister for Health, Tina Mensah; Deputy Minister for Sanitation and Water Resources, Patrick Buamah; and the President and General Secretary of GNAT among others.