25 October 2016 Last updated at: 11:07 AM

Handwashing critical to child health rights – Plan Malawi

Plan International, a child focused non-governmental organization, has underscored the importance of handwashing, referring to it as part of promoting children’s health rights.

The organization made the emphasis over the weekend when it held a World Handwashing Day commemoration event in the area of Traditional Authority Nthiramanja in Mulanje.

a-community-member-showing-off-a-home-made-hand-washing-facility

Community members embracing the hand washing facility.

Speaking during the event, District Water Sanitation and Hygiene Coordinator for Plan Patricia Nyirenda said protecting children from illnesses such as diarrhea starts with behavioral handwashing, a thing that has been well preached than done for a long time.

“In this year’s commemoration of the world’s handwashing day we are emphasizing on the importance of hygiene in connection to child health rights and protection because we have discovered that when we do not practice hygiene, children are usually the ones that suffer most from the results of our actions as adults so we want to sensitize communities to start thinking of hygiene as love to their young ones,” said Nyirenda.

Patricia Nyirenda

Patricia Nyirenda says the initiative is very vital.

There are a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) implementing Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) projects in Mulanje and the district has a projection to achieve 100 percent behavioral handwashing practice by the end of 2017, but according to indicators currently the district has only achieved 14 percent.

Commenting on the possibility of attaining the set goals, Environmental Health Officer at Mulanje District Hospital Davie Selenje said the government hospital and its partners such as Plan have put in place additional mechanisms to ensure that they reach the target within the timeline.

Among other things, Plan is conducting Community Total Led Sanitation activities such as promotion of Open Defecation Free villages in the district which is one of the most critical components of Water Sanitation and Hygiene.

Speaking at the same event, Councillor Beatrice Mulatho of Chikuli ward where the commemorations took place commended NGOs for supporting government efforts in eradicating hygiene-related diseases such as Cholera.

According to Mulatho, it was encouraging to note that Mulanje was one of the few districts in Malawi that have not registered any Cholera case in over five years despite some of its neighboring districts (Zomba and Phalombe) having been attacked by the outbreaks now and again over the past years.

World Handwashing Day is an International day set aside to encourage people of all nations to practice hygiene through behavioral handwashing.



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