CONIWAS calls for action to sustain hand hygiene practices

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The Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) has joined the world to observe this year’s Global Handwashing Day which was themed: “Clean hands are within reach.”

The theme underscores the importance of accessibility to hand hygiene facilities including soap and water in all settings such as homes, schools, health care facilities, workplaces, and other community settings.

In a press statement, CONIWAS  urged all individuals to take responsibility for achieving proper hand hygiene, emphasizing its importance for everyone’s well-being.

Stressing that working together will aid in closing the gaps in access to hand hygiene products and ensure that clean hands are within reach for all.

The statement revealed that many people overlook the importance of handwashing when engaging in activities that require handwashing.

According to UNICEF (2022)1, access to basic hygiene services in Ghana is 42%, with 22% of the households having no hand washing facility.

The report indicates that hand hygiene services are higher in urban areas; where 47% of households have access to basic hygiene services, compared to only 35% in rural areas.

The assessment also indicates that 54% of schools in Ghana have access to basic services with higher levels of service in urban areas (65%) than in rural schools (45%).

Almost half of schools, in rural areas, were without facilities (46%). About 62% of healthcare facilities had access to only basic services and 3% had no facilities. Ghana made a lot of strides in hand hygiene during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Ghana water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) sector, capitalized on these gains to undertake more sensitization in order to sustain the hand hygiene practice even after the peak of the pandemic in the year 2020 Despite all these gains, there’s a greater majority of Ghanaians have reduced hand hygiene practice after the COVID era, with many public places and institutions showing poor attitudes to ensure handwashing since, it has become a common practice for people to walk past handwashing facilities o an institution or shop without practicing proper handwashing.

The statement added that promoting behavioral change and encouraging regular handwashing with soap and water remains a challenge, as awareness and sensitization efforts are primarily focused on global celebration.

According to CONIWAS, to effectively promote handwashing, the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources, in collaboration with partners, has developed the Hand Hygiene for All Strategy.

This strategy aims to raise awareness and emphasize the importance of hand hygiene practices among the population of Ghana. It includes promoting regular handwashing with soap and water, and the use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Additionally, the strategy focuses on improving access to handwashing facilities in public places, schools, healthcare facilities, and households by providing the necessary infrastructure and resources.

“As we celebrate this year’s Global Handwashing Day, CONIWAS would like to urge the Ministry of Sanitation and Water Resources to expedite its efforts in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government and the Head of the Local Government Service to ensure a collaborative effort to disseminate the hand hygiene strategy to all districts and regions.

It is therefore imperative to ensure all Assembly staff especially the environmental health officers and WASH partners in all districts understand and are able to implement the key approaches in the hand hygiene strategy.

This comprehensive approach will help promote hand hygiene practices in all districts,” CONIWAS advised.

CONIWAS also urged the government to initiate the development of a National Hygiene strategy that includes a hand hygiene strategy that addresses other hygiene issues such as Menstrual Hygiene management.

Annually, Ghana joins the whole world to commemorate the Global Hand Washing Day to create awareness on the importance of washing our hands with soap.

CONIWAS and its members have also been active in these celebrations every year through the sensitization of the public and calls for action to sustain hand hygiene practices.

Below is the full  statement 

CONIWAS, launches 2023 edition of Ghana WASH Week

Source: Isaac Kofi Dzokpo/newsghana.com.gh

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