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PIA Press Release
2008/10/08

RP joins 1st ever Global Handwashing Day on October 15

Tacloban City (October 8) -- The Philippines joins the other countries of the world in the observance of the first ever Global Handwashing Day which will take place on Wednesday October 15, 2008.

On that day, millions of elementary and secondary school children of the country will join millions of other children around the world in celebrating the 1st Global Handwashing Day, in support to the United Nation's of 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation and the Handwashing Day to echo and reinforce the call for improved hygiene practices.

As early as September 24, 2008, the Department of Education has issued DepEd Memorandum No. 441 series of 2008, enjoining all public elementary and secondary schools to actively participate in the global activity through the organization of educational and social activities in order to strengthen awareness and disseminate information on the significance of handwashing with soap and water.

The Philippine Senate has issued PS Resolution 627 introduced by Senator Richard Gordon "urging the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation to use all resources available to assist the United Nations General Assembly in the successful implementation of the 1st Global Handwashing Day on the 15th of October 2008."

The guiding vision of Global Handwashing Day is a local and global culture of handwashing with soap. Although people around the world wash their hands with water, very few wash their hands with soap at critical moments (for example, after using the toilet, while cleaning a child, and before handling food).

The challenge is to transform handwashing with soap from an abstract good idea into an automatic behaviour performed in homes, schools, and communities worldwide. Turning handwashing with soap before eating and after using the toilet into an ingrained habit could save more lives than any single vaccine or medical intervention, cutting deaths from diarrhoea by almost half (44%) and deaths from acute respiratory infections by one-quarter (25%). Handwashing with soap would make a significant contribution to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015.

Thus, the inaugural Global Handwashing Day will revolve around schools and children. Children suffer disproportionately from diarrhoeal and respiratory diseases and deaths. But research shows that children the segment of society so often the most energetic, enthusiastic and open to new ideas can also be part of the solution. Ideally situated at the intersection of the home, school and community, children can be powerful agents of behavioural change.

During Global Handwashing Day and the surrounding week, it is hoped that playgrounds, classrooms, community centres and the public spaces of towns and cities will be awash with educational and awareness-raising activities as countries unite to change handwashing behaviour on a scale never seen before. (PIA 8) [top]

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