Development partners in the health sector have observed that Malawi continues to struggle to achieve basic standards of sanitation and hygiene such as washing hands with soap.
The observation is made in a statement released on Tuesday as Malawi joined the global community in commemorating Global Hand Washing Day.
In Malawi, activities to celebrate the day were held at Chikombe Full Primary School in the area of Traditional Authority Makanjira in Salima.
Health Donors Group chairperson, Johannes Wedenig, said, although Malawi has registered significant progress in tackling various diseases and infections, the country is still far from achieving basic standards of sanitation and hygiene.
Wedenig disclosed that only 10 percent of the estimated 17 million population wash their hands with soap after using the toilet, changing baby nappies and before preparing and eating food.
“Most people in this country are aware of the importance of hand washing with soap for the prevention of diarrhoeal diseases. However, the knowledge that people have is not translated to everyday practice,” he said.
He said it was time Malawians started transforming knowledge into action, which, he emphasised, can only be achieved through a change of attitude.
Wedenig said development partners have come up with a number of approaches to promote and ensure hand washing with soap at critical times.
He said all this is aimed at ensuring that hand washing becomes a habit for all individuals in a household.
“We have used community and school-based hygiene promotion to work towards hand-washing, with soap becoming a lifestyle for everyone. Evidence shows that hand-washing with soap at critical times is a very effective way to prevent diarrhoeal diseases,” he said.
Ministry of Health’s Chief Director, Bestone Chisamile, said that more than 52 percent of patients who seek treatment in public hospitals, particularly outpatients, suffer from sanitation and hygiene-related diseases.
Chisamile added that about 89 percent of households in Malawi own pit latrines or toilets.
“And of these, only 33.7 percent of the households with latrines have constructed hand-washing facilities and only 8.7 percent of these hand washing facilities have soap,” he said.
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