Global Handwashing Day 2012 Order of Malta - Permanent Observer Mission

19/10/2012

Global Handwashing Day 2012

Don’t forget the soap!

Handwashing with soap is an effective and affordable way to prevent disease.

Handwashing with soap is an effective and affordable way to prevent disease.

A host of activities for young and old took place at Malteser International’s project locations in Thailand and Myanmar to celebrate the Global Handwashing Day 2012 on 15 October, calling attention to the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent disease.

In Thailand, the event took place at a primary school in the Mae Ra Ma Luang camp and a high school in the Mae La Oon camp, both for Karen and Burmese refugees on the Thai-Myanmar border. Hundreds of children participated in the activities organized by Malteser International together with the camps’ education committees, including a poster competition and screenings of a hygiene awareness movie. To mark the occasion, the handwashing and toothbrushing shelters that Malteser International recently built in those schools were inaugurated with handwashing and toothbrushing demonstrations. The activities were supported by the European Union, the Bangkok-based Hoffenheim Supporters, a football club that organises benefit tournaments, who donated toothbrushes for the children, and Malteser International’s volunteer dentist in Thailand, Dr. Ulrich Reiter, who supported the construction of the shelters. Malteser International announced it will build similar facilities in other schools in the camps.

Handwashing competition in Myanmar

Handwashing competition in Myanmar

In Myanmar, the festivities took place in the small village of A Pyin Yae Kyaw, located one hour away from Htantabin in the Yangon region and accessible only by boat. 83 students from three villages attend primary school there. After learning about handwashing from Malteser International’s team, both children and adults participated in competitions, even assembling their own handwashing station using PVC pipes and taps which are locally available.

Handwashing with soap has an important role to play in child survival and health, as it can reduce the incidence of diarrhoea among children under five by almost 50 percent, and respiratory infections by nearly 25 percent.