, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17 – A recent survey by the Ministry of Public health and sanitation has revealed that more than 30,000 people lose their lives daily due to diarrhea related illnesses.
Speaking during the Global hand washing day celebrations on Friday, Public health and Sanitation minister Beth Mugo said that children account for 16 percent of this number.
She observed that most of the infections are spread through eating with unwashed hands, playing together and shaking hands.
"As a country, we\’ve spent millions of shillings on treatment of diarrhea and other communicable diseases. Every year, the country loses up to 30,000 lives through diarrhea related anomalies. Diarrhea diseases account for 16 percent of deaths among children," she said.
The global theme for this year\’s Global Hand Washing day was \’children and schools\’, and the main objectives of this global celebration were to foster and support a global and local culture of hand washing with soap and look at the state of hand washing in each country.
The Public health minister emphasized the need to sensitise Kenyans on the importance of washing their hands with soap on a regular basis.
"80 percent of all infectious diseases are transmitted through touching and hand washing is therefore the single most important means of preventing the spread of diseases," she said. "Adoption of the simple hand washing behavior would greatly reduce the disease burden in the country."
She said that hand washing with soap is the most effective and inexpensive way to prevent diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children in developing countries every year.
Initiated in 2008 by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Hand washing with Soap, Global Hand washing Day is endorsed by a wide array of governments, international institutions, civil society organizations, NGOs, private companies and individuals around the globe.
She said that despite its lifesaving potential, hand washing with soap is seldom practiced and difficult to promote.
She pointed out that the challenge is to transform hand washing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behavior performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide.
She emphasised that turning hand washing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhea by almost half and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter.
She further added that a vast change in hand washing behavior is critical to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015.