By Shamilla Kara
Today is National Handwashing Day, but despite effort to sensitise on the benefits of washing hands, statistics show that only one out of every four Ugandans has washed their hands properly — with soap and water.
The theme this year is: Hands washed with soap and water are the hands to be proud of. Yet, with the statistics available on how many Ugandans wash their hands properly, there is nothing to write home about.
“According to the Uganda Demographic Health Survey, 27% of Ugandans wash their hands with soap,” says Chris Nsubuga-Mugga, the national coordinator of the national handwashing campaign.
“When we started out, the rate of handwashing with soap after visiting the toilet was only 14%. Now, according to a 2011 survey done by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics, the rate is at 27% up by 13%,” says Nsubuga-Mugga.
This year’s handwashing celebrations will focus on rewarding individuals who have championed the cause. “Districts will be rewarding the best handwashing ambassadors out of the 7,000 in the country,” says Nsubuga-Mugga.
The handwashing ambassadors are part of village health teams that the Ministry of Health has in place countrywide. We train them to teach households proper handwashing and to construct taps next to the latrines.”
Nsubuga-Mugga adds that the best villages will also be rewarded. Another group whose efforts will be acknowledged and appreciated are the health assistants at the sub-county level.
“They have six or more parishes under them and maybe, 100 villages. We will reward the one who has caused the biggest improvement in the sub-county.”
Benefits of the project
“According to the Uganda Bureau of Standards 2006-2007 study, the mortality rate for children under the age of five has reduced from 137 children per 1,000 live births in 2006 to 90 children per 1,000 births,” says Nsubuga-Mugga.
“Many interventions could have caused this, but hand washing has contributed to the reduction of the deaths of these children,” he adds.