Every year on October 15, Global Handwashing Day is observed. The day is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
With the COVID-19 pandemic looming large, observing Global Handwashing Day has never been more important. According to the globalhandwashing.org the COVID-19 pandemic provides a blunt reminder that one of the best ways to stop the spread of the virus is hand hygiene.
This year’s theme, “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together” recognizing the global movement promoting handwashing as a key way to prevent COVID-19 transmission, and the need to keep building on this momentum even after the pandemic.
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in partnership with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Directorates of the Ghana Health Services (GHS), Ghana Education Service (GES) and West Mamprusi Municipal organized a short ceremony to mark this year’s Global Handwashing Day in Walewale, North East region. The drama club from Nalerigu Basic School, performed a short sketch to educate the community on the importance of handwashing with soap and water.
In what appeared as a crescendo for the day, Victor Raul Plance, Senior Project Officer for CRS’ ICOWASH project, led representatives of the West Mamprusi Municipal, CWSA and students to demonstrate proper handwashing with soap and water using handwashing stations strategically positioned at the event grounds.
In her address, CRS Ghana Head of Programming, Carolyn Edlebeck highlighted the various sanitation and hygiene interventions aimed at ending open defecation and promoting hand washing with soaps in communities, schools and health care facilities. “Through the implementation of ISHINE and ICOWASH 1.0 projects, CRS has invested over $12 million in water, sanitation and hygiene interventions in the last seven years and will be investing additional $5 million in the next 2 years in Mamprugu/Moagduri, West Mamprusi and Talensi districts, through ICOWASH 2.0 project” she added.
Hon. Sebian Ibrahim, Presiding Member for West Mamprusi Muninicipal Assembly and Headmaster of Walewale Secondary Technical School, lauded CRS for collaborating with CWSA and other government institutions in promoting hand hygiene in schools and communities in Northern Ghana. He reiterated the need to practice handwashing with soap and water when he said “handwashing with soap and water can prevent people from getting sick with diarrhoea and suffering from respiratory illness”.
The first Global Handwashing Day was held in 2008 when over 120 million children from around the world washed their hands with soap in more than 70 countries. Since 2008, leaders have used the day to spread awareness about handwashing, building sinks, tippy taps and to demonstrate the value of clean hands.
According to UNICEF, here’s how a person should wash their hands properly.
First a person needs to wet hands with running water and then apply soap to cover hands. Once done, they need to scrub all surfaces of the hands for at least 20 seconds before rinsing them thoroughly in running water and drying the hands with a clean cloth or a single-use towel.
UNICEF further states that one should wash their hands for at least 20-30 seconds. Furthermore, in the context of COVID-19 prevention, one should wash hands a number of times including when blowing one’s nose, coughing or sneezing, visiting a public place, touching surfaces outside home, including money, while caring for a sick person and before and after eating.
Story by Lawrence Quarcoo/CRS