By Doreen Matonga, UNICEF Malawi
It was a day full of dance, captivating drama and poems at the 2017 Global Handwashing Day commemoration in Salima. The day was celebrated under the theme ‘Our hands, Our future’.
Learners and communities alike had one key message ‘washing hands with soap saves lives hence a future with a lot of possibilities.’
Speaking at the function, Beston Chisamile, Chief Director in the Ministry of Health called on all Malawians to practise good hygiene to reduce the number of people suffering from diarrhoea.
“At the moment over 50% of hospital admissions are as a result of diarrhoea or hygiene related illnesses. The simple act of hand washing with soap can make a difference in preventing diarrhoea, cholera and other diseases” he said.
Johannes Wedenig, Representative, UNICEF Malawi called on communities to make hand washing with soap a life style. “As a country we have done well with the provision of safe water and improved sanitation. However, we have huge challenges with hand washing,” said Wedenig.
“We need to teach our young children now never to eat food or walk out of the latrine without washing hands with soap. We need to remind care givers that they need to wash hands with soap before preparing food and at all other critical times.”
Dr. Jessie Kabwila, Member of Parliament for the area applauded the different partners for the various displays at the event, particularly the support towards menstrual hygiene management.
“Menstrual hygiene management is not just a girl’s or woman’s issue. It needs proper attention by all to ensure decent toilets have hand washing facilities and that soap is available at all times for our girls to remain in school,” said Kabwila.
The event attracted government officials, NGOs, traditional leaders including Traditional Authority Makanjira, learners and community members from Chikombe area in Salima.
The national hand washing day commemoration was supported by UNICEF with funding from the European Union together with other NGOs. During the event various partners displayed various hand washing technologies as well as locally made soap from the Jatropha trees.