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First Lady Margaret Kenyatta delivers a keynote address at the opening of the inaugural virtual Inclusive Africa Conference 2020 on October 9/FILE/PSCU

Kenya

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta roots for hand hygiene to prevent infections

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 15 – First Lady Margaret Kenyatta has emphasized the importance of hand hygiene as an effective way of preventing infections.

The First Lady said the simple act of frequently washing hands with water and soap saves lives by curbing the spread of viruses including the novel coronavirus that has caused untold suffering to people.

“The COVID-19 pandemic provides a stark reminder that one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of viruses is also one of the simplest – through good hand hygiene, especially through hand washing with water and soap.

“Hand washing and hygiene have never been more topical or important than in our current situation,” the First Lady said.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta’s message was delivered during celebrations to mark this year’s Global Hand Washing Day held on Thursday at the AMREF Africa University in Nairobi.

The First Lady pointed out that the theme of this year’s Global Hand Washing Day, “Hand Hygiene for All’’, reinforced the political will and commitment for the provision of water to every Kenyan as part of the Government’s universal health agenda.

She expressed the need to embrace behavior change that entrench a culture of washing hands with water and soap, saying it is a solution that can be implemented at individual level.

“Now more than ever, we need to embrace and change the way we think about health and the measures we need to take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities,” the First Lady said.

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“Our experience during this COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened our resilience and unity of purpose to fight the effects of this disease,” she added.

The First Lady commended AMREF Africa for hosting the event as well as the Ministry of Health and the National Business Compact on Coronavirus for using the occasion to reinvigorate and reconfirm the commitment to promote hand washing at all levels.

She also praised the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sectors for their role in advocacy and community engagement to promote behavior change as well as the creation of infrastructure that buttresses hand washing.

“We have seen institutions and coalitions such as the UN family, the National Business Compact on Coronavirus (NBCC) and many others spearheading the hand washing and protective hygiene agenda,” the she said.

The First Lady also promoted the theme of the national campaign to boost awareness on hand hygiene “Umenawa?  Nimenawa” by demonstrating the proper way to wash hands with soap and running water.

Noting that October is the Breast Cancer month, the First Lady took the opportunity to remind Kenyans of the importance of early detection and screening as a way of reducing the burden of the disease.

Other speakers included Health Chief Administrative Secretary Dr Mercy Mwangangi and her Water, Sanitation and Irrigation counterpart Dr Andrew Tuimur, UN Resident Coordinator Siddharth Chatterjee, and AMREF CEO Dr Githinji Gitahi.

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