, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 – Close to 20,000 school going children and adults on Friday took part in a hand washing campaign in an attempt to break the Guinness book of world records currently held by India.
They gathered at Thirime Primary School in Kikuyu to mark Global hand washing day, set aside by the UN General Assembly to reinforce its call for improved hygiene practices.
Education Permanent Secretary James Ole Kiyiapi announced that 19,352 children and adults washed their hands during the event.
"A lot of the diseases that we infect and pass on to one another is because of the germs we carry in our hands and lack of washing our hands so the message we are telling the children is that they must wash their hands when they come out of the toilet," the PS emphasised.
He said that 18,302 children and 1,050 adults participated in the activity.
"We have a judge of the High Court here who will get the records and certify them so that the Guinness book of record will then recognise this," Prof Kiyiapi said.
The PS also directed that every school in the republic should have a clean toilet for boys and another for girls.
"The Ministry will ensure this happens and they must be properly designed and clean. Out of the money we give to schools, we are going to tell the head teachers to get some of it that was going into instructional materials to construct proper toilets where there are none to improve hygiene," he said.
Unilever Brand building Director, East and Central Africa Margaret Mwaura called on parents to instil in their children the importance of hand washing on a regular basis.
"The event is important because obviously when we get into the Guinness book of world records, people will want to know about the event but more importantly is that it will set the message that we want to give to the public about the importance of washing hands. It\’s the cheapest way you can keep healthy and it\’s just water and soap," she said.
She noted that world estimates indicated that more than 3.5 million children died annually before their fifth birthday due to diarrhoea and other preventable diseases.
Students from more than 20 schools in Kikuyu and Dagoretti areas participated in the hand washing event.
The first ever global hand washing day took place in October 2008.