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Global handwashing day in Uzbekistan

Print version
22 October 2012
Press release
8 8 Photos

SAMARKAND AND TASHKENT, Uzbekistan, 22 October 2012. — Thousands of schoolchildren, their parents, teachers, community members and local NGOs in different regions of the participated in the Hygiene Championship Initiative launched today by the Ministries of Health and Public Education with UNICEF. The Hygiene Championship Initiative launched as a sequel to the Global Handwashing Day on 15 October, is part of a national strategy for Hygiene Promotion covering the period 2012 — 2015.

The Initiative was flagged off at Samarkand City School # 14 in the presence of regional representatives of the Ministries of Health, Education and UNICEF by school children and Tozavoy, the clown. Tozavoy or ‘Mr Clean’ entertained and educated children with games and his Handwashing Song «Қўлларимиз тоза бўлар билиб ювсак уни агар. Соғлом бўлар танамиз ҳам тозаликдан қилиб маза." (Our hands will become clean if we wash them in a proper way. We will have a healthy body if it enjoys good hygiene).

Tozavoy and his clown partner modelled the proper technique of handwashing and reminded children of the critical times when they needed to wash hands. «We must wash hands before touching food, after using the toilet and after cleaning babies," they told each other and the adults around them. The Samarkand school is among a clutch of 14 schools in Samarkand, Andijan, Fergana, Namangan and Surkhandarya regions that will pilot the Hygiene Championship Initiative by school children.

UNICEF’s handwashing message in Uzbekistan is the same as the rest of the world: a very simple act of handwashing with soap can save hundreds of thousands of children who needlessly die every year. Global child mortality figures released by UNICEF last month show that some 2,000 children under five die each day from diarrhoeal diseases. Of these the vast majority — or about 1,800 children per day — die from diarrhoeal diseases due to a lack of safe water, sanitation and basic hygiene.

«It is the most cost-effective way to prevent diarrhoeal and acute respiratory infections. However, despite the evidence, the importance of this and other positive hygiene practices remains largely underestimated and often does not receive adequate attention, " says Jean-Michel Delmotte, UNICEF Representative. «It is critical that handwashing with soap becomes routine for every child, every family, every community, and we are communicating this message through the Hygiene Championship Initiative and all available channels.»

The Hygiene Championship Initiative aims to mobilize key school stakeholders to improve basic sanitation conditions in schools and promote positive hygiene practices among children and their communities. It will focus on building capacities of schools, children, families and communities in the target regions in ensuring clean water, sanitation and hygiene in schools, homes and communities. Through hygiene lessons and other educational activities, children will gain knowledge and skills necessary to adopt proper hygiene practices and become agents of behaviour change in their families and communities.

The Hygiene Championship Initiative is part of a long-term Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Promotion Strategy developed by the Ministry of Health of Uzbekistan with UNICEF’s technical assistance. Through children, the message will spread to families, communities and the nation. Halting the spread of diarrhoeal disease is not complicated, or costly, but it is critically important that handwashing with soap becomes routine for everyone.

A recent UNICEF supported study in the Fergana Valley (RSCSES 2012) confirmed there was a strong correlation between lack of proper hygiene behaviour and the prevalence of helminthiasis in children. Helminthiasis or worm infestation affects children’s health negatively and eventually leads to chronic diseases, causing stunting and delayed growth. In this context, UNICEF supported two campaign rounds for hygiene promotion and deworming of children under five years old in the Fergana valley.

For further information, please contact:

Bakhodir Rahimov, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF Uzbekistan
Tel.+ 99871 233 9735

Maksim Fazlitdinov, UNICEF C4D Officer
Tel.+ 99871 233 9735

Nigina Baykabulova, UNICEF Communication Officer
Tel.+ 99871 233 9735

Note for editors: Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is one of the priorities for UNICEF’s work globally and in Uzbekistan. UNICEF supports national programmes that increase equitable and sustainable access to, and use of, safe water and basic sanitation services, and promote improved hygiene.

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