BASOTHO could avoid many preventable infections if they developed the life-saving habit of hand washing with soap.
This was said by Berea district Health Inspector Chabatsane Khoaeane during Global Hand Washing Day commemorations at Kolojane clinic in Bela-Bela on Friday.
Held annually on 15 October, Global Handwashing Day is dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
The commemorations were held under the theme: “Make Hand Washing a Habit” and organised by the government in conjunction with civil society organisations.
Mr Khoaeane said some people took washing hands as a small issue while in actual fact it was a very important component to good health.
According to World Health Organisation statistics, every year, more than 3,5 million children do not live to celebrate their fifth birthday because of diarrhoea and pneumonia.
“Not washing hands regularly may result in illness due to the germs we cannot see. Children under the ages of five years are especially vulnerable to such diseases,” Mr Khoaeane said.
He said washing hands with water and soap was very cost effective because it prevented diseases that required money to be treated.
“When a person washes their hands, they don’t get sick resulting in the reduction of congestion of patients in our hospitals and clinics,” said Mr Khoaeane.
“In most cases when we have diarrhoea, we blame it on the food we ate not taking into consideration that it might have been caused by our bad habits of not washing hands.”
On behalf of village health workers, Maphakiso Leoka said handwashing with soap was a simple action, but one that could make a big difference.
“We used fill up clinics with the same illnesses not knowing that something as simple as washing hands with clean water and soap could save us from losing our children from diarrhoea,” Ms Leoka said.
This was echoed by Water Aid Program Management Officer Tiisetso Piet who said cleanliness played a major role in preventing illnesses such as diarrhoea.
“What we need to do is to make hand washing a habit as we do with our bodies daily. It is very critical that we make handwashing a habit in order to save precious lives of our children and ours,” Mr Piet said.