Safeguard raises hands for hygiene
(The Philippine Star) - November 2, 2015 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Oct. 15 marked the eighth year that Global Handwashing Day (GHD) was celebrated around the world. Founded by the Global Private-Public Partnership for Handwashing in 2008, this day is dedicated to increasing awareness of the importance of handwashing with soap. Procter and Gamble (P&G), through its flagship soap brand Safeguard, is not only one of the founding members of this partnership, but also continues to be a key advocate of GHD in the Philippines. This year was no different as Safeguard Philippines brought this annual celebration simultaneously to three key cities: Manila, Cebu and Davao.

This year’s local theme “Linis Lusog sa Global Handwashing Day” focused on proper handwashing with soap as a cost-effective solution to prevent diseases, including diarrhea and pneumonia. According to World Health Organization, approximately 13 children die because of diarrhea every day, accounting to almost 5,000 deaths annually. National statistics also indicate that an estimated 37 children under the age of five die from pneumonia per day. Diarrhea and pneumonia continue to be the top causes of child mortality in the Philippines. This year marks the deadline of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the fourth of which is to reduce child mortality.

While the country has made progress in MDG4 over the past few years, the interventions that reduce preventable deaths like diarrhea and pneumonia will continue to be important beyond 2015. Many Filipinos are still not aware that disease-causing germs can be found in seemingly unlikely places. A study conducted by P&G showed that disease-causing germs may be found on everyday items like mobile phones, ATMs, kitchen sinks, water bottle and many more.

While disease-causing germs are everywhere, these are easy to remove with proper hygiene and frequent washing with soap. A review of multiple studies that handwashing with soap cuts the incidence of diarrhea by nearly half. Furthermore, a study in Pakistan found that the same habit also reduced the number of pneumonia-related infections by more than half. Clean hands will help prevent transmission of disease from one person to the next. Clean hands will help keep families, classrooms, schools and communities healthy.

This advocacy for health is not possible without the support from many partners. P&G continues to work closely with UNICEF, the Department of Education and the Department of Health to promote health and hygiene in communities. In partnership with these key institutions, P&G has built handwashing facilities and implemented hygiene education programs in public schools nationwide. Safeguard also collaborates with various organizations to help promote handwashing with soap, most recently among 8,000 school children in Tacloban.

P&G, through Safeguard, and UNICEF aims to further improve health by implementing the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) program in more schools. This will bring hygiene education and facilities to rural areas where the incidence of diseases and the child mortality rate are relatively higher. “Global Handwashing Day is celebrated annually to advocate for greater attention and investment in programs that promote and support the life-saving practice of handwashing with soap. We all have a hand in keeping our families, schools and communities healthy – if only through the simple habit of washing with soap frequently,” shares UNICEF WASH Chief Louise Maule.

 

CEBU AND DAVAO CHIEF LOUISE MAULE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION AND THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH GLOBAL HANDWASHING DAY GLOBAL PRIVATE-PUBLIC PARTNERSHIP HANDWASHING MANY FILIPINOS PROCTER AND GAMBLE SAFEGUARD PHILIPPINES SANITATION AND HYGIENE SOAP
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