They will wash their hands in the prescribed manner across the country today
NEW DELHI: About 10-crore schoolchildren will be washing their hands in the prescribed manner across the country on Wednesday as part of the global exercise to imbue better sanitary habits for a healthy living.
In the first exercise of its kind ever in the world, over a million schools have been incorporated for carrying out this simple act. This is to demonstrate to millions of school children the most appropriate way of washing hands at the most critical moment, that is before taking their meals, and saving their lives.
Union Minister for Rural Development Raghuvansh Prasad Singh set the ball in motion here at the third International Learning Exchange in Water and Sanitation where the UNICEF representative in India, Karin Hulshof, demonstrated the five-step method prescribed by doctors for washing hands.
The other moving spirits behind the massive programme, Secretary of Department of Drinking Water Supply Santha Sheela Nair; Joint Secretary Vijay Bhaskar; and UNICEF India WES chief Lizette Burgers, were also present.
Present also were delegates from Angola, Cambodia, Central African Republic, East Timor, Indonesia, Iraq, Nigeria, Palestinian Territory, Uganda, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe. These 60 delegates will be visiting several States over the next 10 days to participate and learn the process of sanitation under way in the country.
In 70 countries
About 70 countries will be observing the Global Hand-washing Day on Wednesday. On the occasion, the Department of Drinking Water Supply and Department of School Education and Literacy in tandem with UNICEF have decided to launch a national campaign for sanitation and hygiene promotion.
Trained teachers and personnel would impart the process of washing hands before the mid-day meal is served in the schools. Rajasthan aims to demonstrate the method in about one lakh schools, while Tamil Nadu hopes to cover 50,000 schools.
The year 2008 is being observed as the year of sanitation.
Sachin Tendulkar and the entire Indian cricket team are to spearhead the campaign at a school in Mohali to drive home the importance of washing hands after using the toilet and before partaking a meal.
In his inaugural speech, the Rural Development Minister quoted Mahatma Gandhi that sanitation was more important than Independence. While claiming that 57 per cent of the population had been covered under the programme so far, Dr. Singh was confident of attaining full sanitation coverage by 2012. The task ahead was to cover the remaining 71 million households.
Karin Hulshof remarked that diarrhoea claimed the lives of about 1,000 children daily in India and that most of these could be prevented if children washed their hands properly with soap and water.