The call was made during the National 2016 Global Hand Washing Day Celebration which was observed across four communities including Nadowli, Kalsegra, Kpazie and Yiziiri in the Nadowli-Kaleo District of the Upper West Region.
The event was characterized by a demonstration of proper hand washing techniques using soap and running water and interpersonal interactions with community members.
Dr Musheibu Mohammed Alfa, Deputy Upper West Regional Minister, said the Global Hand Washing Day is a global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding the importance of hand washing with soap as an effective and affordable way to preventing diarrheal diseases and respiratory infections.
He said in order to emphasize on the importance of hand washing as a critical behavior change for long term sustainability, this year’s celebrations was focused on community based activities that promoted hand washing with soap at critical times.
The Deputy Regional Minister appealed to all to ensure that they washed their hands with soap most especially after visiting the toilet to prevent contraction of diseases.
Mr Worlanyo Siabi, the Regional Director of Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), said only 28 per cent of the population in the region practiced safe hygiene while a whopping 72 per cent practiced open defecation.
He said a lot of the people who practiced open defecation were most unlikely to wash their hands and urged all stakeholders to put in extra efforts to ensure that the practice was halted.
Mr Siabi said CWSA in its quest to promote hand washing among school children has installed a total of 1,400 tippy taps across various basic schools in the region.
The CWSA Regional Director took the opportunity to thank all partners for contributing in diverse forms towards making this year’s celebration a success.
Madam Fay Ephrim, Chief Planning and Investment Analyst at the CWSA Head Office, said washing hands with soap under running water has proven to be the most effective way of preventing oral diseases.
She pleaded with all to ensure that before they put anything into their mouths, they should ensure that they wash their hands with soap.
Mr Martin Dery, Executive Secretary of the Coalition of NGOs in Water and Sanitation (CONIWAS) appealed to the public to take hand washing as a serious business to prevent diseases and its attendant consequences.
He dismissed the notion that fruits in the bush did not carry diseases, saying any fruit that was exposed was most likely to be contaminated and therefore should be washed properly before eating.
This Year’s National 2016 Global Hand Washing Day Celebration was on the theme: “Make Hand Washing a Habit”.