To commemorate the occasion of Global Hand Washing Day on 15th of October, Ugandans joined other citizens around the globe in marking this day. Its importance was amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic. First celebrated in 2008, the day serves as the global advocacy day towards increasing awareness and understanding the importance of handwashing with soap as an effective and affordable way to prevent diseases and their spreading and consequently to save lives.
This year’s Global Handwashing Day was themed Unite For Universal Hand Hygiene and indeed many stakeholders came together to ensure the celebrations. The reasons for this were felt across Uganda.
Uganda was a beehive of activities as government, NGO stakeholders and the communities rallied around the cause of correct and effective handwashing. To commemorate the day, stakeholders converged at Kazo Angola- Kawempe Division where per the day's theme Chief Education Officers were recognized and rewarded.
During the event Unilever Uganda donated 250 gift hampers to school children in the urban communities of Kawempe. The gift hampers contained a Lifebuoy soap, Pepsodent and Vaseline. We want to thank Unilever for always putting Children first for they are the backbone of behavioral change in societies.
To drive the narrative home, the celebrations in Uganda were anchored around the promotion of hand hygiene through children champions being appointed as Chief Education Officers (CEO) who through various actions demonstrated their peers how to best wash their hands with soap especially during the Covid-19 pandemic and in the emergence of Ebola.
Pre-celebrations were held by the National Business Compact on Coronavirus (NBCC) and Amref Health Africa Uganda on the 11th of October. An ambitious hybrid meeting with livestreaming from two locations was held with Prof. Myriam Sidibe on ground, who was then also speaking on prime time TV. There will be an extra article reporting on this event.
On the 28th of October the HBCC partnership in Uganda through Amref Health Africa contributed and participated in the national event that was held at Bwizibwera Grounds in Lwanyamahembe Town Council in Mbarara District. The national event brought in partners from diverse spheres to speak about and amplify the message around the importance of proper handwashing in our communities. In attendance were among other dignitaries four members of parliament and representatives from the Ministry of Water and Environment and local administration. Speaking during the event Engineer Labu Olwenyi, the Commissioner from the Ministry of Water and Environment, pled to all people, children, the private sector, communities, and political, private, and public service providers to promote proper handwashing with clean water and soap at all times.
Chief guest Hon. Agon Silas who represented the speaker of parliament thanked the stakeholders who made the day happen and urged adults to be handwashing role models acknowledging the sustainable development goals especially SDG three and six, which both emphasize hand hygiene.
From the activities around the celebration, the following conclusions were drawn - Handwashing is still a big problem amongst communities, and this is because behavior change is still in the process. To support the sustainable behavior change partners were being called upon to support the hand hygiene campaigns in the country and all stakeholders including police, UPDF, development partners, and media were tasked to promote hand hygiene and act as role models to champion this.
The celebrations got extensive media coverage and below are some links you can click-on to see how the Uganda media covered the event.