Bringing together handwashing experts and stakeholders from all sectors, the 2022 Nairobi Global Handwashing Day celebrations created a platform for partners of the HBCC 2 campaign to highlight the importance of practicing proper hand hygiene. The event was hosted by Amref Health Africa and the National Business Compact on Coronavirus (NBCC), with WSUP and PS Kenya as co-organisers. Amref-NBCC, WSUP and PS Kenya are the current grantees of the Unilever and UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office funded Hygiene and Behaviour Change Coalition (HBCC) II in Kenya.
Amref Africa Group CEO Dr. Gitahi Githinji kicked off the event with a powerful video message, noting:
"While Covid-19 and other diseases, conflict and climate change are among a confluence of challenges that threaten the health of our communities, we are far from defenseless. We celebrate Global Handwashing Day today and throughout the week in the knowledge that handwashing, in combination with other preventative behaviours such as social distancing, wearing a mask, cleaning surfaces, getting vaccinated and seeking health assistance, when necessary, really saves lives".
Leading the event from the Amref International University, Chair of the NBCC, Founder of Brands on a Mission, handwashing expert and co-founder of the Global Handwashing Day, Prof. Myriam Sidibe observed that handwashing with soap and water is an effective way to prevent diseases and save lives. She highlighted,
"For that reason, handwashing is the single most important preventative behaviour for us and our communities. We need hands washed today, tomorrow, and every day."
One of the highlights of this celebration was a rich panel discussion on the topic of hand hygiene and the importance of combining various hygiene behaviours with vaccination. Moderated by Ms. Janet Mbugua, the panel was comprised of Prof. Myriam Sidibe, Dr. Margaret Njenga, PS Kenya’s Chief Operating Officer, Ms Gertrude Salano, WSUP Kenya Sanitation Lead, Ms Jackline Kiarie, Regional Programme Manager - Global Health Security Unit, Amref Health Africa and Vikas Mehta, the Chief Executive Officer of Ogilvy Africa.
There were equally powerful commentaries from three key partners - Equity Afia, Rotary International and Copia. This was preceded by promising words by HBCC 2's funder Unilever, who led the signing of a pledge for continued commitment to hand hygiene across East Africa. This was then signed by all key partners. The exciting speaking components of the event were concluded with a vote of thanks by the wonderful Ambassador Dr. Josephine Ojiambo.
This year’s Global Handwashing Day, with the theme Unite for Universal Hand Hygiene, marked the 14th edition of this important advocacy day established to endorse handwashing with soap at home, in the community and around the world. Handwashing with soap and clean water is proven to be an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and therefore save lives. Acknowledging this, handwashing was an important part of the activites of that day, with our top guests taking a lead to demonstrate proper handwashing with soap, followed by all our guests. The aim was to get as many people as possible to wash their hands to mark the day.
After the mass simultaneous handwashing exercise, attendees were encouraged to tour the booths that showcased the vibrant work of digital partners and organisations part of HBCC 2 and beyond. There was also the opportunity to take the Covid-19 vaccine (standard course or booster) at Amref's mobile vaccination centre, one taken by a number of key figures including Prof. Myriam Sidibe and Ms Janet Mbugua.
The magic of the 2022 Global Handwashing Day celebrations lay in the bringing together of partners across all sectors. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet in person for the first time, to share knowledge and contacts, and to discuss scope for further collaboration. We are so grateful to all our partners for showing up - Pulse Live, Lixil, Shujaaz, AdSimu, AIfluence, Project Hand Up, Copia, Equity Afia, Inua Dada foundation, Rotary International and Unilever. It was a real pleasure to host you on this important advocacy day.
The Nairobi event was a precursor to the government-led celebrations that were held in Homa Bay County later in the week.
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