The Minister of Sanitation and Water Resources, Ms Cecilia Abena Dapaah, has expressed worry that some people are ignoring the role of hygiene in their lives, resulting in high incidence of diseases.
She noted that achieving universal hand hygiene was a complex issue that needed a joint effort and collaboration among relevant stakeholders, towards sustainable hand hygiene interventions.
Ms Dapaah made the observation at launch of this year’s Global Hand washing Day Celebration, at the New Kejetia Market, in Kumasi, on Saturday.
It was to encourage the public to adopt hand hygiene practices at home, work places, offices, hospitals, schools and markets across the country and to reinforce the practice of hand washing under running water.
Under the theme, “Unite For Universal Hand Hygiene,” the launch at the market appeared appropriate as contamination through exchanges of goods and handling of food items could possibly be high there.
Mr Dapaah said that some people did not practice hand washing with soap under running water, resulting in the outbreak of diseases.
She cautioned that the contamination of food items with faecal matter could easily occur without conscious effort to practice handwashing with soap under running water.
Ms Dapaah observed unhygienic practices were negatively impacting on health, adding that food items displayed on the bare floor or exposed to the scorching sun and flies posed health risk.
She also mentioned selling of food items by refuse dumpsites, fruit sellers/vendors serving fruits to customers with bare hands touching food or sharing food without washing hands after handshakes during festivals, funerals and outdooring, among others.
Ms Dapaah noted that hands were principal carriers of disease-causing pathogens from person to person either through direct or indirectly through surfaces.
The minister called on all and sundry to indulge in “proper handwashing with soap, which helps to remove germs from hands, to prevent transmission of respiratory infections and diarrhoea and cholera.”
She said it was crucial for everyone to have access to handwashing facilities, adding that “let us all resolve today to start creating awareness on handwashing with soap and also adopt the practice of washing hands at the critical times, especially after visiting the toilet and before we handle food.”
Ms Dapaah advised that “We need to unite for universal hand hygiene and advocate hand hygiene as an essential element of health and development…we need to support affordable, accessible and desirable hand hygiene solutions for everyone, everywhere and above all to increase hand hygiene financing by investing in programmes that are hygiene sensitive which will lead to lasting hand hygiene habits.”
The ministry donated 10 veronica buckets to the combined Kejetia Traders Association, to promote handwashing in the market.
Nana Akwasi Prempeh, a chairman of the association, appealed to the ministry for more veronica buckets to assist about 7,000 traders practice hand washing with soap.
Ms Theodora Adomako Adjei, Extension Service Coordinator at the Community Water and Sanitation Agency, educated the traders on proper handwashing with soap under running water.
FROM KINGSLEY E.HOPE, KUMASI