South Sudan Marks 9th Global Hand Washing Day

South Sudan joined the rest of the world in commemorating its 09th Global Hand Washing day on Saturday where hundreds of thousands of children across the country washed their hands with soap and clean water aimed at promoting hand washing as an effective method for preventing diseases.

South Sudan Marks 9th Global Hand Washing Day
Handwashing day commemorated by UNICEF in Juba, 15/October 2016 [Photo creddit/UNICEF]

By Jok P. Mayom/Juba and James Dimo/Wau

JUBA/WAU, 14 October 2016 [Gurtong]-
The day was marked under the theme ‘Hand washing with soap keeps Cholera away from you and your family.’ This comes following an outbreak of cholera in the country that affected more than 2,500 people and resulted in 38 deaths.

“The simple practice of washing hands with soap and water can drastically reduce diarrheal and acute respiratory infections which are a common cause of death in children less than five years,” said Mr. Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF Country Representative.

With cholera outbreak in July 2016, UNICEF and partners responded by intensifying the promotion of washing hands with soap and clean water at critical times such as after using the toilet and before touching food.

UNICEF has also worked with the government and partners in establishing cholera treatment and oral rehydration centres. This has resulted in a decline in the number of cases in Juba which was the worst hit by the disease. New cases are however being reported in Mingkaman and Fangak which calls for more action to prevent spread of the disease.

“Hand washing with soap and clean water will drastically reduce outbreak of disease like Cholera that is repeatedly destroying the lives of people in Juba and elsewhere in the country,” said Hon. Sophia Pal Gai, National Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation.

The decline in the number of cholera cases in the capital can be attributed to the continuous mobilization of communities, school children and individuals to wash hands with soap and clean water during critical times,” said Peter Mahal Dhieu, the Director General for Rural Water Supply and Sanitation.

In Wau, government officials together with Health Organisation joined by Oxfam, UNICEF, and International Medical Corps (IMC) among others marked the Day at Wau Catholic Cathedral where thousands of displaced person have sought refuge since the June 2016 violence which forced thousands of civilians in Wau to sheltere at the churches, Red Cross and UN camp.

The State Public Health Promotion Assistant in Wau, Michael Abinni said the people of Wau must observe that they use soap while washing their hands.

UNICEF and partners says it has reached nearly 27,195 families this year with hygiene promotion messages for cholera prevention, and trained more than 200 social mobilizers, 550 hygiene promoters and 1,402 community leaders on key hygiene practices.

In addition, more than 48 schools – covering 23,152 children and 160 teachers – were reached with important hygiene messages and three compactor trucks were given to Juba City Council for garbage collection and disposal from cholera hotspots.

UNICEF and partners have also distributed 146,878 water purification tablets, 56,373 bars of soap, 83,782 packets of oral rehydration salts and 10,000 educational booklet to over 147,994 people.

UNICEF continues to work with schools to make hand washing and good hygiene a part of daily routine.

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