NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 3 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta on Friday encouraged parents and teachers to embrace a culture of hand washing saying this will impact children positively.
Kenyatta added that the practice will enhance hygiene, sanitation and drastically reduce unnecessary deaths among children under five years.
She also added that making clean water available in homes would reduce diseases that affect children at that tender age.
The First Lady said hand washing with soap, at critical times such as before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet, can reduce the risk of diarrhoea and related deaths by about 45 percent.
“There are two million children who never reach their 5th birthday every year as a result of diarrhoea and pneumonia,” she said.
“Many of these deaths are easily preventable through simple practices like hand washing with soap.”
Speaking during the annual Lifebuoy Global Hand Washing Day dubbed “Help-a-child-reach 5” campaign she noted that the Ministry of Health in collaboration with Unilever and other agencies managed to wash hands of over 1.5 million children in Kenya last year.
The First Lady noted: “We are gathered here today because our consciences have been pricked into action.”
“We are forced to act because families in Kenya and across the world continue to lose their precious children to diseases that can be prevented by a simple hand-wash,” the First Lady said.
She lauded Unilever for its efforts in seeking solutions to infant mortality saying the goal to make 1 billion people wash their hands by 2015 was achievable.
“As we play our part in helping people and families across the world take small steps towards better health, we make a giant leap for humanity. In this case, we shall let the little children lead us,” the First Lady said.
Unilever global chief executive officer Paul Polman spoke at the hand washing day saying: “We have already covered 130 million children in the hand washing campaign globally and we are now targeting 1 billion children by 2015.”
He pledged to finance a water project at the Kilimani Primary School to guarantee children at the institution access to constant clean running water.
Hundreds of school children took part in the awareness-raising activities including pledges on washing hands with soap as a cost-effective lifestyle to prevent diseases.
The global campaign, spearheaded by Unilever, is aimed at educating Kenyans and the world to embrace the simple practice to prevent diarrhoea and acute respiratory diseases that are still a leading killer for children in Kenya and globally.