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Celebrating Global Handwashing Day

On October 15 Zimbabwe joined the rest of the world in commemorating the fifth Global Hand washing Day, whose goals are to improve healthy living, prevent diarrhoea and communicable infections in developing countries by promoting proper handwashing and hygiene.

Report by Our Correspondent

This is happening at a time when there are worrying reports of another diarrhoea outbreak in Harare.

This could turn out to be a precursor of another cholera pandemic, as happened in 2009, if care is not taken to control it.

Unilever, through the Lifebouy soap, are happy to play their part in fostering hygiene, thereby saving lives  in communities.

According to Myriam Sidibe, Lifebuoy global social mission director, the Global Hand washing Day is dedicated to promoting the life-saving potential of handwashing with soap and has enjoyed five years of success.

“Each year on October 15, Lifebuoy Soap celebrates Global Handwashing Day by asking everyone around the world to wash their hands a little more often.

In doing so, the company estimates that over the last five years the number of deaths caused by diarrhoea has been cut by half.

Over the past five years, an estimated 1,1 million children’s lives have been saved with a little help from soap and water.

Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective and low- cost ways to prevent diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia.

“We know from clinical research that handwashing with soap at key occasions can reduce the risk of diarrhoea by up to approximately 45%.

“That means that handwashing  could help over 600 000 children reach their fifth birthday every year,” she said.

Through its Hygiene Education programmes in 2010-2011, Lifebuoy has changed the hand- washing behaviour of 48 million people.

This year, through the continuation of programmes and activities, Unilever will reach many millions more as part of its sustainable-living goals.

These aim to help more than one billion people improve their hygiene habits and make a positive difference to their health and well-being by 2020.

Global Handwashing is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, private  companies and individuals.

Health263 says washing your hands with soap is an inexpensive way of preventing diarrheal  infections.

Handwashing must be a daily practice and children must be taught to  wash their hands with soap after using the toilet and before eating.

Health practitioners say wash- ing hands can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea rates among children under five by almost 50% and respiratory infections by nearly 25%.

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