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19000 die each year through water and sanitation related diseases-UNICEF



About 19000 people died each year from water and sanitation related diseases, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), has said. Of the number, over 5000 are children. According to UNICEF, 70% of diseases treated in out-patient-departments (OPD) in the various hospitals in the country are water and sanitation related.

Addressing basic school pupils at the Sakasaka cluster school to mark this year’s Global Hand Washing Day, UNICEF WASH Specialist, Mr. Osman Mumuni said, only about 12% of households has places designated for hand washing with soap facilities in the northern region.

Over 68% of Ghanaians, Mr Osman added, are still defecating outside which calls for serious attention by all stakeholders.

The UNICEF Wash Specialist calls for attitudinal and habit change towards water and sanitation issues. Open defecation, Mr Osman observed aggravates water and sanitation diseases in the country. “It is my wish and prayer that, open forests in the Tamale metro and Sagnarigu district are shut down to people such as taxi drivers, motor riders and even responsible people in the society,” Mr Osman stated.

An engineer at the Community Water and Sanitation Agency (CWSA), Mr. Joseph Jonah called for a shift from the way people wash their hands in the restaurants in the region.

Mr. Jonah has asked basic school authorities to ensure that children are educated properly on handwashing with soap after school and nursing mothers to wash their hands before breast feeding their babies.

Washing hands in bowls in the restaurants is not an effective way of killing germs but it should be in running water, Mr Jonah advised.

Engineer Jonah urged residents in the region to make handwashing with soap their habit because millions of germs are reside in the hands after a hard day’s work. Increasing the awareness and understanding about the importance of handwashing with soap, Mr. Jonah said, is the effective and affordable way of preventing diarrhea and its related diseases.

The district chief executive for Sagnarigu, Mr. Alhassan Mohammed Sorugudoo, on behalf of the northern regional minister commended partners in the WASH sector for supporting government to eradicate open defecation.

Ghana, he noted, is next to Sudan in terms of open defecation in Africa and that government is appreciative of the support and advocacy championed by stakeholders in the water and sanitation sector. Focus should be on children because they are exposed to the water and sanitation related issues.

Pupils and teachers from Choggu Yapalisi M.A and Saint Gabriel schools in the Sagnarigu district who participated through drama play demonstrated proper hand-washing.

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