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Pakistan is unlikely to meet MDGs regarding sanitation facilities as about 50 percent people here would be deprived of access to adequate sanitation facilities and safe drinking water by the year 2015. If this trend continues, the total number of people affected by poor sanitation facilities could increase to 52.8 million.

Hand washing with soap is the single most effective and inexpensive way to check diseases and one of the factors that lead to acute hygienic conditions and sanitation. Global Hand Washing Day was celebrated by World Health Organisation (WHO) here to raise awareness about the benefits of hand washing with soap and share scientific evidence showing hand-washing with soap to be an exceptionally valuable and cost-effective health intervention.

The participants of the event emphasised that many studies have shown that the bacteria that cause hospital-acquired infections are most frequently spread from one patient to another on the hands of healthcare workers. Cleaning your hands before and after having contact with patients is one of the most important measures for preventing the spread of bacteria in healthcare settings.

Global Hand washing Day (GHD) is a campaign to motivate and mobilise millions around the world to wash their hands with soap. The main purpose behind the campaign is to raise awareness of hand washing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention and to have an access to the adequate sanitation facilities. In developing countries every year, approximately 60 million children born live in households without access to improved sanitation and poor hygiene. This lead to 88 percent of deaths from diarrhoeal diseases. Hand washing with soap helps reduce these diseases by more than 40 percent.

The participants said that the main focus of the health departments should be to sensitise healthcare workers (doctors, nurses, sanitary staff, etc) that hand hygiene is the single most important method of preventing and controlling infection in healthcare facilities. Soaps, hand gels will be distributed with brief demonstration to promote hand washing with soap.

According to WHO the simple act of washing hands with soap can significantly cut the risk of diarrhoea to 50 percent and that of respiratory tract infection to 45 percent. WHO estimates that diarrhoea kills one child every 30 seconds. Scientific research shows that hand washing with soap prevents disease in a more straightforward and cost-effective way than any single vaccine. Hand-washing with soap thus represents the cornerstone of public health. It can be considered an affordable, accessible "do-it-yourself" vaccine.

According to an estimate, 84 percent of the population do not have an access to an improved source of drinking water while 2.6 billion people, more than 40 percent of the world population, do not use a toilet, but defecate in the open or in unsanitary places. It is estimated that improved sanitation facilities could reduce diarrhoea-related deaths in young children by more than one-third.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2011

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