In commemoration of this year’s Global Hand Washing (GHW) Day, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with the Cooperative Housing Foundation (CHF) and Relief International has donated hand washing systems to four schools within the Newtown Experimental cluster of Schools in Accra. The schools which included the Accra Newtown Experimental (1), Accra New Town Experimental (2), Accra New Town (5) and (12) Primary Schools and Accra New Town Primary received one elbow – operated, one – foot pedal– operated hand washing systems and three hand washing stands and basins. It is believed that the items will serve as a source of reminder to the beneficiaries to constantly wash their hands with soap.
According to the Director of USAID Ghana, Ms Cheryl Anderson, "Hand washing is an effective means to prevent a number of diseases including diarrhea in developing countries. Five percent of children under-five years who get diarrhoea die as a result of the disease in Ghana." She disclosed that USAID under the Water, Supply, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program was partnering with Government and other agencies to increase access to safe drinking water while ensuring the improvement of hygiene behaviors to reduce diarrhoeal and intestinal worms. She said USAID through its partners has provided boreholes fitted with hand pumps, small town mechanized water schemes, toilets for schools and clinics. On her part, Mrs. Grace Annan, the Officer-in- Charge for the Ayawaso Central Sub- Metro Education, explained that personal hygiene and sanitation have become problems worldwide, stressing that for societies to be well informed on good hygienic practices, children, who have been have been identified as one of the best channels of information dissemination, should be one of primary groups that should be dealt with In fostering and supporting a global and local culture of hand washing with soap under the GHW program, Mrs. Annan mentioned that teachers and other educationists have the greatest responsibility of supporting and ensuring that hand washing with soap works in schools which will ultimately change the culture of the hand washing without soap in homes. She was also hopeful that "hand washing with soap would not only mean a day’s celebration but an all-time activity not only for children but also in all homes." In a speech read on his behalf by the MP for Ayawaso East, Hon. Dr. Mustapha Ahmed, the Minister for Water Resources, Works and Housing, Hon Alban Bagbin, disclosed that Government was collaborating with other agencies such as the African Development Bank, Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and GTZ to run community water and sanitation programmes all over the country to improve the living conditions of the people. The Chief Executive of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, Mr. Alfred Vanderpuije, pledged that, "The AMA … would facilitate vigorous environmental sanitation and hygiene campaigns on hygienic practices, social and cultural factors, lifestyles and environmental awareness in order to improve basic knowledge, skills and human behavior on sanitation and personal hygiene."
Hand washing, according to AMA boss, is a simple exercise yet complex to practice. "This is why the AMA through the Metro Education and Public Health Departments and other partners are investing time and resources to ensure that school children are able to change behavior as well as influence others." Mr. Vanderpuije also mentioned that school children are good ambassadors; they are quick at practising what they learnt at school and carry the same information back home and to the communities. They are able to influence their peers as well as recommend those practices to their parents. He advised all Ghanaians to endeavor to promote hand washing among all the segments of our population. Written by Gifty Mensah Friday, 22 October 2010 The Public Agenda