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Hand-washing project aims to tackle disease effectively

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Cambodia celebrates Global Hand Washing Day in Kep as part of new drive to teach children the importance of hygiene

Photo by: MOM KUNTHEAR

Participants at Cambodia's first Hand Washing Day on Wednesday in Kep.

THE importance of  the routine task

of washing one's hands with soap was brought to the fore with the

first-ever Global Hand Washing Day. Cambodia marked the occasion, which

is part of the UN's International Year of Sanitation 2008, with a

celebration in the seaside town of Kep on Wednesday.

"Promoting hand washing is cost-effective when compared with other

health interventions [to prevent diarrhoea and other illnesses]," said

Johanna Laurila, assistant communication officer for Unicef.

"A US$3.35 investment in hand washing brings the same health benefits

as an $11.00 investment in latrine construction, a $200.00 investment

in household water supply and an investment of thousands of dollars in

immunisation," Laurila said.

As part of an ongoing hand-washing project over the following weeks,

the government plans to teach more than 540,000 school children and

thousands of villagers, provincial governors and local authorities in

11 provinces the importance of washing their hands with soap at

"critical moments" such as after using the toilet or cleaning a child

and before handling food.

Pen Saroeun, director of the School Health Department at the Ministry

of Education, Youth and Sports, said that helping citizens to

understand good hygiene was integral to development.

"I hope that people change their habits and start washing their hands

with soap after Global Hand Washing Day," he said, adding that most

Cambodians do not associate diarrhoea, cough and intestinal worms with

not washing their hands.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that Cambodia will celebrate a National Day of Sanitation on November 13 each year. 

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