In light of the pandemic, HANDS Pakistan is promoting hand hygiene measures in over 22,000 villages across Pakistan
Handwashing with soap is an easy, effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives; which is crucial for protection against a range of diseases; like pneumonia and diarrhoea to name a few.
Proper handwashing reduces diarrheal diseases by 30% and acute respiratory infections by up to 20%; in Pakistan, where over 45% of the children have stunted growth due to continuous diarrhoea, building hygienic practices and habits can save many lives.
Commenting on the need of proper hand hygiene practices to be popularised in the country, UNICEF’s Representative in Pakistan, Aida Girma, noted that "Pakistan is the first country to launch the roadmap for Hand Hygiene for All, UNICEF's global initiative which aims to ensure universal hand hygiene by 2030".
Since 2008, October 15, is celebrated as the Global Handwashing Day; endorsed by governments, international institutions, civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations, private companies and key stakeholders.
Understanding that good hand hygiene is a cornerstone of safe and effective healthcare, this day is commemorated around the globe to make hand hygiene a customary practice.
The 2021 Global Handwashing Day theme is ‘Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together'.
The unprecedented nature of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to highlight the critical role hand hygiene plays in disease transmission.
Therefore, this year’s call to action asks us to leverage experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic to address the traditional neglect of hand hygiene investments, policies, and programs.
Effective measures to promote hand hygiene in Pakistan
HANDS Pakistan, founded by Prof. A. G. Billoo in 1979, has evolved over the past 41 years as one of the largest non-profit organisations in the country.
The organisation’s services cover five key areas: provision of healthcare, education, livelihood opportunities, disaster management, safe drinking water, and sanitation to promote hygiene.
Currently, HANDS Pakistan operates 35 branches across the country, empowering a population of more than 30 million settled in 22,000 villages in 57 districts of Pakistan.
Previously, the organisation has supported and played a pivotal role in national handwashing campaigns and helped integrating handwashing into other existing programs – like healthcare, education, and nutrition.
To ensure that families, children and surrounding communities have access to appropriate handwashing facilities and supplies, HANDS Pakistan has provided PPE Kits, WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) supplies and handwashing stations at different public spaces, schools and healthcare facilities during the emergency response of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Several sessions on hygiene and infection prevention have also been conducted for healthcare workers under the emergency response of Covid-19.
During this response, the HANDS Pakistan WASH department provided 904,000 liquid hand wash, 250,000 bar soaps, 1205 hand sanitisers and 500 pedal handwashing stations, which have been installed at different health facilities and intervention areas to promote hand hygiene.
Celebrating Global Handwashing Day
On this Global Hand Washing Day, UNICEF has congratulated the government of Pakistan and its development partners for setting ambitious targets for expanding access to hand hygiene in schools, healthcare facilities, workspaces, displacement camps and other key areas of public interest in the country.
UNICEF is committed to continuing support to the federal and provincial governments in the implementation of flagship programs such as Clean Green Pakistan, the Three-Star Approach for WASH in schools and the Pakistan Approach to Total Sanitation.
These innovative approaches are designed to bring about a positive behavioural change towards hand washing.
Led by the provincial government in Sindh, UNICEF and its partners including HANDS thrives to ensure that handwashing policies and programs are inclusive to all individuals at household, community and institutional levels within the province.
HANDS Pakistan is commemorating Global Handwashing Day by arranging a series of events involving healthcare providers, WASH sector partners and local stakeholders to reinforce the importance of handwashing with soap.
HANDS Pakistan believes that political support and behaviour change interventions are needed to substantially improve the policies, strategies and actions that drive sustainable change.
To learn more about HANDS and their initiatives visit their website.
This content is produced in paid partnership with HANDS and is not associated with or necessarily reflective of the views of Dawn.com or its editorial staff.