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Over 60% don’t wash hands with soap- Ministry of Health

FILE PHOTO: Hand washing

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Washing hands with soap after visiting the toilet is lacking among Ugandans.

According to the health ministry, the practice has caused persistence of some diseases like diarrhoea, cholera and dysentery.

The 2018 Water and Environment health sector report, hand washing practices with soap have stagnated for the last two years. The report shows that improvement of only one percent has been recorded annually.

Dr Charles Olaro, the acting Director-General of health says that hand washing is a big health concern that many people ignore.

“Hand washing is the simplest way to remain healthy and keep many infectious diseases away.

But this practice has been ignored by many people. People do not think it is important, even in schools. This needs to change because hand washing is a very important hygiene practice,” Dr Olaro said.

The ministry made the call on Tuesday as Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the Global Hand washing day that is celebrated every October 15. This year’s theme is- clean hands for all.

The health ministry estimates that 35,000 children in Uganda do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of malaria, diarrhoea and pneumonia due to poor hand washing practices.

Dr Olaro adds that people put more value in the clothes they put on than their hands that come into contact with germs every second of the day.

“Handwashing with soap is one of the most effective means of preventing diarrheal diseases along with safe stool disposal and adequate, safe water supplies. But people put more emphasis on washing their clothes with soap while ignoring their hands. They think their hands deserve only water,” Dr Olaro said.

According to data from the Ministry of Health, Napak district has the worst hand washing coverage in the country.

The 2018 sector performance report shows that the district had a decline of hand washing practices from 11 percent in 2017 to 1 percent in 2018.

Dr Olaro says the ministry is planning to focus on a district-wide hand washing with soap action plan.

“Napak has so many partners in the district but has the lowest hand washing coverage. We are planning to focus on action plan that will bring together all stakeholders to pursue a common hand washing approach for everyone forever,” Dr Olaro said.

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