Juba, 15 October 2021 –The Republic of South Sudan Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation and partners invite South Sudanese youth (and the people of South Sudan at large) to champion awareness on handwashing.
Today, on Global Handwashing Day, the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation (MWRI), UNICEF and partners call upon the youth and children of South Sudan to foster change in their communities and to champion awareness on handwashing to prevent COVID-19 and other communicable diseases.
The 15th of October is celebrated annually as Global Handwashing Day by millions of people around the world to create awareness about this safe and simple practice, with multiple health benefits. This year’s theme is “Our Future is at Hand – Let’s Move Forward Together.”
“Simple, cost-effective actions such as handwashing with soap and practicing and promoting safe hygiene behaviors go a long way in preventing many easily transmittable childhood illnesses such as diarrhea which can be easily averted by handwashing. Additionally, handwashing with soap is even more critical now in the context of prevention of the spread of COVID-19,” said Hon. Manawa Peter Gatkouth, Minister for Water and Irrigation.
The Hon. Minister also called upon policymakers, government officials and community leaders to not just promote the practice and safe hygiene behaviors, but also to ensure handwashing facilities are available in healthcare facilities and schools, markets, houses of worship, bus terminals etc throughout the country.
The power of young people and children to influence those around them, including their parents, caregivers and community members is undeniable. When youth and children practice handwashing with soap and safe hygiene behaviors, their peers are watching and copying their behavior,” said Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF Representative.
While handwashing with soap is critical to stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus, it also helps to prevent acute respiratory infections (ARI) and diarrhea, which are main killers of children under five in South Sudan. Handwashing with soap at critical times, such as after using the toilet or before eating, can reduce the incidence of diarrhea among children under five by 47 per cent and respiratory infections by approximately 25 per cent.
The availability and practice of hygiene facilities and behavior also help to foster education, by encouraging children to attend school; particularly for girls who can then safely manage their menstruation while in school, without fear of shame or stigma.
Considering these positive factors, this year’s Global Handwashing Day theme encourages youth to become handwashing champions and urges government officials and community leaders to ensure the availability of hygiene facilities in schools and healthcare centers. This is where South Sudan seeks the support of external donors to continue to priorities funding for water, sanitation, and hygiene programmes. Access to and availability of clean water and sanitation facilities is a proven factor in improved health, nutrition, and education for children.
The MWRI and partners, in collaboration with UNICEF, encourage everybody in South Sudan to join this commemoration and to contribute to healthy, prosperous communities by handwashing them with soap, every time they wash their hands.
THE ACTUAL CELEBRATION OF GLOBAL HANDWASHING DAY shall be commemorated on World Toilet Day, November 19th, 2021. MWRI, and Partners are mindful of hosting frequent functions that expose the people of South Sudan to the dangers of Covid-19, therefore, GHWD is celebrated low profile this year but shall be echoed/reflected in the World Toilet Day Celebration.