Reports from the World Health Organisation (WHO) show that more than 3.5 million children die from acute respiratory infections in developing countries every year.
According to the report, diarrhoea is the second highest leading cause of infant deaths contributing to more than 1.5 million deaths of the global figures.
Mr Thomas Benarkuu, the Project Coordinator of the MIHOSO International, a health-centered NGO, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview, on the sideline of an event to mark the 2016 Celebration of the Global Handwashing Day, at Apesika in the Kintampo South District of Brong-Ahafo Region.
The day, instituted by the Global Public-Private Partnership for handwashing, and falls on October 15, every year, creates the opportunity to design, test and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap.
Among other objectives, it is designed to foster and support global and local culture of handwashing with soap, shine a spotlight on the state of handwashing around the world and raise awareness on the importance of handwashing with soap.
The 2016 Celebration of the day is under the theme: “Make Handwashing a Habit”.
Mr Benarkuu explained that a simple hand wash with soap could prevent diseases and save 1.2 million infants deaths, which mostly occur in Africa.
Aside this, he said, the practice could also reduce the incidence of respiratory infections by 23 per cent and pneumonia, which is the leading cause of under five deaths, accounting for 1.8 million deaths every year (WHO report).
Mr Turkson Zoyaar, the Kintampo South District Director of Environmental Health, said diarrhoea was recording alarming figures and it was the leading cause of child mortality in the District.
He told the GNA that about 49 per cent of Out-Patients Department cases were diarrhoea and advised parents to encourage their children to wash their hands with soap, especially before eating and after lavatory.
According to the United States Center for Disease Control, handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness in all settings—from the home and workplace to child care facilities and hospitals.
Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community.
It recommends the washing of hands with soap, during, and after preparing food; before eating food; before and after caring for someone who is sick; before and after treating a cut or wound and after using the toilet.
Handwashing is also recommended after changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet; after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing; after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste and after touching garbage.