Global Handwashing Day is a campaign to motivate and mobilize millions around the world to wash their hands with soap. It takes place on October 15th of each year. The campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of hand washing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention.
Human feces is the main source of diarrheal pathogens. These pathogens are passed from an infected person to another person via various routes but all of these illnesses emanate from feces. Washing hands with soap after contact with fecal material – from using the toilet or cleaning a child – prevents the transmission of the bacteria, and viruses that cause diarrheal diseases. Handwashing with soap stops the transmission of disease agents and so can significantly reduce diarrhea and respiratory infections.
Ghana WASH Project and Global Handwashing Day
The Ghana WASH Project collaborated and provided support to the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA) for the celebration of the Global Handwashing Day in four (4) regions. The theme for the celebration was ‘Five years of global hand washing; going beyond the 5th birthday of children’. GWASH support included the following:
- Provision of T-Shirts,
- Development of a drama script to be acted by school children
- Screening of handwashing videos
- School quizzes and debates with prizes
- Route march
- Refreshments for school children
- Logistics for the Planning Committees
GWASH supported the Gomoa East District Education Service (GES) to celebrate the day in Gomoa Afransi. Three basic schools AME Zion, SDA Primary and Methodist Primary took part in the event. The event began with a route march by pupils through the principal streets of the district. The pupils had placards depicting the benefits of hand washing with soap/ash under running water. The pupils then convened at the school compound where they were addressed by the representative from GES and the district School Health Education Program (SHEP) Coordinator on the benefits of hand washing with soap/ash under running water. She emphasized the importance of hand washing in preventing diseases like diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery and cholera. The school pupils recited poems and performed a hand washing themed drama. The event was well attended with about 1,560 pupils, 40 food vendors, 36 teachers and 100 community members.
Eastern Region Celebration
The Eastern Region celebration was held in Asokore, Koforidua, at the Methodist Junior High School. The event was attended by over 2,500 school children, 200 adults (including teachers, representation from the District Assembly, Ghana Education Service, Ghana Health Service, CWSA, opinion leaders, and food vendors/hawkers). The event was chaired by the chief of Asokore. There students used various activities to communicate the importance of hand washing with soap. The activities included a drama by the Methodist JHS students, songs, poetry, speeches, and presentation of prizes for winners of the Clean Schools Competition. At the conclusion of the event a mass hand washing exercise was led by the Senior Nursing Officer of the Asokore Hospital.
Volta Region Celebration
The event was held at Akatsi. However, prior to the commemoration of the event at Akatsi, series of activities were carried out to raise awareness about the importance of proper hand washing with soap.
Community video shows: Video shows were held in three communities (Abutia-Teti, Nyive and Wute) in the evening, and the films covered hygiene and sanitation-related diseases, fecal-oral transmission routes and the importance of hand washing with soap under running water. The movies shown included ‘Be a Toilet Angel’, ‘The Story of Cholera’ and UNICEF/CWSA piece on hand washing with soap. Pre-tests were done prior to the shows to gauge the levels of knowledge/awareness of people about some common poor hygiene/sanitation related diseases and the five critical times of hand washing. Incentives were used to encourage community members to contribute during question and answers sections, and this approach was hugely successful. In all a total of 865 people attended the video shows.
Western Region Celebration
In Western Region, the Global Handwashing day was celebrated in Juaboso District. Quiz competitions were organized for the 12 GWASH project schools made up of 8 primary schools and four Junior High Schools. Presentations were given on the importance of hand washing. The school Health Club in Eteso D/C Primary performed a drama on hand washing and food handling. The event brought together about 850 people comprising of 300 adults and 500 children. There were representatives from the District Assembly including the newly-appointed District Chief Executive of the District, the District Steering Team members, teachers from all the 12 schools and the community members.
October 15, 2012