‘Best handwashing practices can help reduce several diseases’

ISLAMABAD: Adopting best handwashing practices can help reduce several diseases that are an indirect burden on the health budgets of families and the nation, according to speakers at a seminar on Monday.

Experts at the seminar, titled ‘Global Hand Washing Day 2019: Clean Hands for All’, said that social protection policies and measures should also incorporate handwashing, hygiene and sanitation components for improved health indicators.

The seminar was organised by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Ministry of Climate Change Pakistan.

One of the speakers, WaterAid Head of Policy and Advocacy Nadeem Ahmed, emphasised the need to raise awareness about changing societal behaviour towards better hygiene and sanitation.

Social protection policies, measures should incorporate handwashing, hygiene and sanitation components, experts say

He said the most significant reduction would be observed in diarrhoea cases, adding that the government needs to provide an enabling environment and policy guidelines along with civil society coordination to actively participate and mobilise people.

Unicef Pakistan Wash chief Thewodros Mulugeta said the Pakistani government’s flagship Clean Green Pakistan programme offers the right direction, policy and guideline for better water, sanitation and hygiene (Wash) facilities in the country.

He said Clean Green Pakistan considers Wash a fifth important pillar of the initiative.

“With strong partnership under the Clean Green Pakistan programme, we all can achieve our desired objectives of Wash,” he said.

Speakers also observed that talking about feminine hygiene was a social taboo in Pakistani society, which needed to be cleared by educating the young generation at the school level and educating parents through school mobilisation at the grassroots level.

Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council Pakistan Country Head Tanya Khan said clean water, sanitation and hygiene are fundamental human rights under the Constitution.

She said citizens must hold theresponsible accountable for the provision of better Wash facilities.

“An inter-sectoral approach through coordination and collaboration among civil society, corporate sector, academia, media and government institutions is require for enhanced delivery in the Wash sector,” she said.

Malnourishment and stunting is already a major challenge in Pakistan, and if this marginalised segment of society does not observe best handwashing practices they will be in an extremely vulnerable condition, SDPI Executive Director Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said.

“There is a need for addressing inequalities in access to handwashing, hygiene and sanitation facilities to help reduce the risk of the vulnerable groups to diseases,” he added.

SDPI Water and Climate Change Section Head Dr Imran Khalid and Maryam Shabbir, an environmentalist with the SDPI, also spoke at the event.

It was stressed at the seminar that ensuring better Wash facilities for the young generation is critical and the inclusion and provision of sanitation services should be a part of disaster management with a special focus on women and girls.

The original story was published in Dawn, October 15th, 2019


Kalbe Ali

Reporter in Dawn

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