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Simple Solutions are Very Effective

Oct 21, 2008, 5:54 AM

Sometimes the simple solutions can be among the most effective. This statement is certainly true in the case of hand washing. The Gambia last Wednesday joined the rest of the international community to commemorate UN international year of sanitation and global hand washing day.

Global hand washing day, the first of its kind, focuses on children and schools in order to raise awareness and promote behavioral change.

If this simple change in behaviour can be introduced to children at an early age it could have far reaching implications not only for the health of our people but also for the Department of State for Health and our hospitals and health centres. The effectiveness of hand washing in the prevention of disease has long been known and can be a major stepping stone in our fight to prevent infections rather than expend resources and time in fighting them and jeopardizing the lives of those who are struck down.

Speaking at the recent launch ceremony, the Vice President, Dr. Aja Isatou Njie Saidy, highlighted the importance of washing hands with soap, saying it is the most effective and least costly of preventing diarrhea and pneumonia.

She expressed government's full commitment and political will to the attainment of the MDG targets.

It is very heartening to hear of this commitment and we hope the government follows through on its intentions. For any initiative of this kind to be fully effective we must ensure that all school children have access to soap so that they can keep up their good habits both at school and at home. If we can ensure this then the benefit to us all will be very great indeed. This was highlighted by the UNICEF country representative in The Gambia Ming Wee Kan. She described sanitation as a fundamental element in breaking the poverty circle and bringing human dignity to the lives of men and women, young and old.

She said that poor sanitation and hygiene have a negative impact on education and highlighted the need for school children to have access to good hygiene systems with hand washing facilities fitted in their school toilets. The plan of action is not complex. We simply need action.

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