Unilever Ghana Limited has, through its Lifebuoy Soap, commemorated this year’s Global Handwashing Day with a handwashing festival at the Independence Square in Accra.
Each year, Lifebuoy commemorates the day, which is observed on 15th October, by calling on people to inculcate the habit of washing hands with soap under running water. Dubbed “High5 for handwashing- Give us a high5 and we’ll teach 5 kids handwashing”, the objective of the handwashing festival was to teach one million children in the country, the proper way of washing hands.
It was also aimed at heightening awareness about Lifebuoy’s commitment to handwashing with soap under running water before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, after visiting the toilet and during daily bath to help children reach the age of 5.
In his welcome remarks, the Managing Director of Unilever Ghana Limited, Mr. Yeo Ziobeieton said the company finds it worrying that although people around the world clean their hands with water, very few use soap to wash their hands. “Even when soap is available, it is sometimes reserved for laundry and bathing instead of for handwashing. Washing hands with soap removes germs much more effectively than doing so with only water”, he emphasized.
Lifebuoy has over the years raised social consciousness in relation to adopting hygienic behaviours that promote human sustainability. Mr. Ziobeieton therefore encouraged Ghanaians to share their High5s with Lifebuoy using #high5forhandwashingGh.
The Managing Director of Unilever Ghana also said the company is going beyond teaching Ghanaians how to wash their hands; “the Unilever Ghana Foundation, recently handed over seven newly constructed hygiene stations to selected basic schools within the Tema metropolis at a total cost of GHC800,000. It is estimated that over 3,800 pupils and an additional 6,500 community members would benefit from the facilities. This is another initiative by Unilever to help enhance sanitation and hygiene needs of Ghanaians”, Mr. Ziobeieton said.
The First Lady, H.E. Mrs. Rebecca Akufo-Addo who was the Guest of Honour noted that the significance of children’s hands to their health and for that matter their future cannot be overemphasized. ‘Children use their hands to pick, lift, touch, hold, smear and fix things. In the process, their hands come into contact with all manner of germs, which can be dangerous to their health if ingested”, she said. She used the occasion to dispel the long held belief that African germs don’t kill saying, “a visit to our CHPS compounds, health centers, clinics and hospitals gives an indication of the health implications of ignorantly swallowing that seemingly harmless dirt on a child’s hands”.
Mrs. Akufo-Addo emphasized that handwashing with soap is a “do it yourself vaccine” that prevents infections and saves lives and urged all Ghanaians to make it a habit.
The event brought together about 2500 children and dignitaries from the Ministries of Education, Health, Gender, Children and Social Protection as well as Water Resources and Sanitation. It was also used to set two Guinness World Records on handwashing with soap.