GIZ, UNICEF and Water Aid collaborated to celebrate Global Handwashing Day

GIZ, UNICEF and WaterAid collaborated to celebrate Global hand washing Day in the capital city. The event kicked off with hand washing demonstration presented to the participants followed by panel discussion on the topic “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together”. “Comprised of experts from UNICEF Pakistan, GIZ, WaterAid Pakistan, Ministry of Health and Unilever. The panel discussion discussed the Civil Society perspective on hand hygiene for All, role of international development partners, and role of private sector in promoting hand hygiene The panel discussion was followed by the Award Ceremony for the winner of GHWD Campaign by the Youth Wizards. Mr. Wajid Zahid who won the cash prize and appreciation as his social media campaign attracted over 10,000 views.

There was also a presentation of the provincial campaign of GIZ on Global Handwashing Day.

While speaking at the event, Ms. Seemi Ezdi, chairperson senate committee on climate change acclaimed the efforts of organizers of the event and emphasized that it is the need of the time to proactively bring the issue of handwashing in forefront to build a conducive environment. This can only be done through effective collaborations. “Government will always support such initiatives which educate masses about adopting hygienic practices and developing the habit of handwashing to curb COVID Pandemic”, she further added.

GIZ country Director Mr. Marion Pfennigs shared his thoughts on the importance of handwashing. He stated that 3.5 million children globally effected from disease related to handwashing. Handwashing offers most efficient response to pandemic as it removes germs, reduces health risk, prevent spread of germs and pathogen to others. Sanitation for million programs aims to raise awareness of handwashing habitat young age by providing handwashing facilities at school level. For this purpose, GIZ has been engaged with Schools in organizing various awareness activities and building infrastructure facilities in Balochistan region.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Munawar Hassan, head of programmes, WaterAid highlighted the change in people’s attitudes towards hygiene. He said “People’s own behavior is a major barrier in adopting the hand washing practices therefore we need to be self-reflective on our hygiene practices and try to promote positive hygiene practices in our families, communities and workplaces”.

Speaking at the same event, Mr Kamran Naeem, WASH specialist from UNICEF stressed the importance of universal handwashing towards achieving UNICEF core commitments for children. He appreciated government effort and commitment to hand hygiene by being the first country in the world to launch the Hand Hygiene for All roadmap and highlighted that currently provincial governments are developing costed hand hygiene work plans which will be used for resource mobilization. Through the Clean and Green Pakistan initiative, the Pakistan Approaches to Total Sanitation (PATS), and the WASH in institutions programs, UNICEF will continue supporting the government of Pakistan to achieve its WASH goals by 2030, Said Mr Kamran.

Dr Razia from the ministry of health highlighted her ministry`s commitment to improve hand hygiene in health care facilities and schools to reduce the spread of diseases and hospital acquired infections. She called upon the private sector to support the government in behavior change and also in complimenting little government resources to improve WASH in health care facilities. “ Now that we have concluded the health care facility scoping study which tells the WASH situation, the government moves towards ensuring availability of handwashing stations at critical points and providing menstrual health friendly facilities” said Dr Rabia

Speaking on the role of the private sector in ensuring universal hand hygiene, Ms Fatima, from Unilever Pakistan highlighted that, COVID-19 has proved that failure to WASH hands with soap may not be an issue of affordability but of priorities. She appealed to government and the developmental sector to partner with the private sector to ensure product availability to everyone including the hard to reach areas. “As Unilever, we are committed to continue developing innovative products suitable for everyone despite class or location” said Ms Fatima. She indicated that every business would be happy to support any sustainable WASH program.

GIZ along with partnered organization initiated a program name Sanitation for Millions, to increase awareness and understanding about the importance of safe hand hygiene and to foster a culture of handwashing. The activities for the global handwashing days are targeted at students of primary, secondary and high schools of Baluchistan since students have proven to be the champions for changing unsafe practices. By celebrating the Global Handwashing Days, Sanitation for Millions has sensitized a wide range of affiliated WASH stakeholders outside schools such as community representatives, government officials and parents to participate and adopt safe hand hygiene practices. Overall, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people have been reached so far.

Under this program, they have re-established WASH Clubs in schools in Baluchistan where hygiene issues and cleanliness are discussed amongst students and safe hand hygiene is promoted. The leaders of the WASH Clubs ensure that all classes have one day a week for group handwashing and school toilet cleaning.

Sanitation for Millions Pakistan conducted theatre performances by trained artists on handwashing and personal hygiene in schools. This proved to be very effective since the artists conveyed their messages in a humorous way and school children paid good attention to their performances.

Sanitation for Millions has designed workshops to train female preachers (Waithats) as trainers to train on safe hygiene and sanitation. 100 Waithats (female preachers) from the Ministry of Awqaf, Islamic Affairs and Holy Places (MoIA) attended the workshops on “Sanitation and Hygiene promotion” carried out by Sanitation for Millions in Amman, Irbid and Mafraq Governorates and learned about safe hygiene and handwashing practices.

Sanitation for Millions designed a concept for a guidebook on safe hygiene from an Islamic perspective. The guidebook includes the topic of safe hand hygiene, referencing both WHO standards as well as Islamic principles on the issue.

Sanitation for Millions follows a child- and gender-friendly, inclusive and equitable approach by constructing facilities and promotes activities that encourage safe hygiene practices which are adapted to the needs of the users (especially of girls and women, and persons with special needs) and are culturally appropriate and regard age-related needs (especially of minor children). As a response to the current emergency due to COVID19 pandemic, the adaptation to the local context, repair rehabilitation and adequate maintenance of the existing infrastructure for proper hand washing should be a priority for Sanitation for Millions.

Hand washing is one of the core activities carried out with regard to safe hygiene. According to international research results, infections are transmitted in 80 % of the cases by hands. Therefore, hand washing is one of the most efficient response to pandemics and for infection control since it removes germs, reduces health risks, prevents the spread of germs and pathogens to others and is not costly.