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.