The Chief Executive Officer of Sustainable Development Focus (SUDEF)-Ghana, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), Mr John Baidoo, has advised against the practice of allowing hundreds of pupils to wash their hands in the same basin, describing it as unhygienic.
He has, therefore, called on the authorities of various schools to find an innovative way to stop the practice in their schools.
Mr Baidoo emphasised the need to promote, improve and sustain handwashing infrastructure in the country, especially in the various educational facilities.
According to him, less than 50 per cent of basic schools across the country had an approved handwashing facility such as ‘Veronica buckets’, adding that most schools filled pans with water for children to wash their hands in them.
Mr Baidoo was addressing pupils of the Krobo Roman Catholic Primary School in the Techiman North District of the Brong Ahafo Region to commemorate this year’s Global Handwashing Day on the theme: "Clean hands - A recipe for health".
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SUDEF-Ghana, in collaboration with the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), organised a demonstration on handwashing to teach students the proper way of washing their hands.
The programme was organised to commemorate the Global Handwashing Day which falls on October 15 every year to create awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap (HWS), which is described as the most effective and affordable way to prevent diarrhoea and pneumonia, which are the leading causes of death among children under five.
Acute respiratory infections such as pneumonia are some of the primary causes of death among children.
According to Mr Baidoo, human faeces were the main source of diarrhoeal pathogens, leading to shigellosis, typhoid, cholera and other common endemic gastro-enteric infections.
Others are some respiratory infections such as influenza and pneumonia, he said, explaining that a single gramme of human faeces could contain 10 million viruses and one million bacteria.
Mr Baidoo said regular handwashing with soap after contact with faecal material from using the toilet or cleaning a child prevented the transmission of the bacteria, viruses and protozoa that caused diarrhoeal diseases.
Handwashing with soap reduces the rate of respiratory infections and could cut the infection rate by about 25 per cent, while reducing diarrhoea infections by about 50 per cent.
As part of the celebration, SUDEF-Ghana presented a Veronica bucket to the Krobo R/C Primary School to support the NGO's effort to champion handwashing among the students.
Mr Baidoo explained that handwashing with soap stopped the transmission of disease agents and so could significantly reduce diarrhoea and respiratory infections and may impact skin and eye infections.
Mr Baidoo called on the public to adopt the use of approved handwashing infrastructure at public places such as health facilities, market centres, hotels, faith-based centres, schools, offices and lorry parks to ensure proper handwashing.
He also called on landlords to attach toilet and handwashing facilities to their buildings to encourage handwashing in the country.