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Adoption of best handwashing practices can help reduce the disease burden significantly, experts

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Islamabad – (Monday, October 14, 2019) GNP: Experts at a seminar on Monday urged the need for changing broader societal behaviour towards the adoption of best handwashing and sanitation practices to help reduce the disease burden, especially in reducing the incidences of diarrhea by 23-40 per cent in Pakistan.
They were speaking at a seminar titled “Global Handwashing Day 2019: Clean Hands for All” organized by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) in collaboration with Ministry of Climate Change Pakistan here at Islamabad.
Executive Director, SDPI, Dr Abid Qaiyum Suleri said malnourishment and stunting is already a major challenge of our society and if this marginalize segment of the society would not observe best handwashing practices, they will be further in an extremely vulnerable condition. “There is a need for addressing inequalities in access to handwashing, hygiene and sanitation facilities to help reduce the risk of the vulnerable groups to diseases”, he stressed. Our social protection policies and measures should also incorporate handwashing, hygiene and sanitation components for better and improved health indicators, he added.
Thewodros Mulugeta, Chief of WASH, UNICEF Pakistan said that Clean Green Pakistan is a flagship programme of Government of Pakistan which offers right direction, policy and guideline for better water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) facilities in the country. He said Clean Green Pakistan consider WASH as a fifth important pillar of the initiative. “With strong partnership under Clean Green Pakistan programme, we all can achieve our desired objectives of WASH”, he added.
Tanya Khan, Country Head, Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) Pakistan said clean water, sanitation and hygiene are our fundamental human rights as per our constitution. She said citizen must hold the responsible accountable for the provision of better WASH facilities. “Inter-sectoral approach through coordination and collaboration among civil society, corporate sector, academia, media and government institutions is required for enhanced delivery in WASH sector”, she stressed. Talking about women hygiene is a social taboo in our society, which needs to break through educating our young generation at school level and also educating parents through social mobilisation at the grassroots level, she added.
Maryam Shabbir, Environmentalist at SDPI said Global Handwashing Day celebrated every year to promote handwashing through advocacy. “This year’s theme is ‘Clean hands for all’. The theme focuses on the importance of handwashing equity and follows the push to leave no one behind in the Sustainable Development Agenda”, she said adding there is a need to address inequalities in access to handwashing facilities and programs to reduce the risk of the marginalized groups to diseases that impact their health, education and economic outcomes.
Nadeem Ahmed, Head of Policy and Advocacy, Water Aid stressed the need for raising awareness for changing societal behaviour towards better hygiene and sanitation. “Media has a very crucial role to play in raising awareness, where the government needs to provide enabling environment and policy guidelines and civil society to actively participate and mobilise people”, he said. Dr Imran Khalid, Head Water and Climate Change Section, SDPI said ensuring better WASH facilities for our young generation is of very critical, as they are future of this country. He said there is a dire need of political will for provision of basic public services. He also stressed the need for inclusion and provision of sanitation services during disaster management with a special focus on women and girl child. GNP

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