DG2Siaya Deputy Governor Dr James Okumbe yesterday challenged proprietors of public and private buildings, schools, government institutions, communities and health facilities to put in place comprehensive mechanisms towards the promotion of hand hygiene.

Dr Okumbe while presiding over the global handwashing day at Siaya ATC yesterday said residents will be free from dangers of diarrhoea and pneumonia if health stakeholders put more efforts in promoting water sanitation and hygiene programs.

The deputy governor who was accompanied by national government health representative Ms Janet Mule, UNICEF regional Coordinator Mr Jimmy Kariuki, County Health CEC Mrs Dorothy Owino and Director Mr Kennedy Orwenjo noted that in Kenya, the diarrheal disease and acute respiratory infections are among the leading causes of child mortality.

He added that about 16 per cent of child mortality can be attributed to severe diarrhoea, Siaya having had a significant drop in cases of cholera outbreaks in the past years from 60,444 in 2013 to 35,398 cases in 2019.

Health CEC Mrs Owino while addressing the gathering urged residents to embrace handwashing exercise to tame germs and contaminations especially on occasions such as, while off latrine, after changing diapers, before and after eating. This she said while as well disclosing this year’s theme ‘clean hands for all’ which reminds of the need to be inclusive when addressing hand washing disparities.

Ms Mule in her delivery proposed the need for the department of health to invest in Open Defecation Free sustainability strategies to ensure the region status (ODF) is maintained. She further hailed the UNICEF and other health stakeholders for their joint partnership that has wiped out open defecation through the sensitization programs on building and proper use of latrines.

Ms Mule confirmed that the health department through its monitoring and evaluation unit that has pitched the tent in Siaya since 2018 certified that the region has achieved its ODF status.

Addressing the health stakeholders drawn from the six sub-counties, the regional UNICEF coordinator Jimmy Kariuki commended the local government for allocating Sh Sh.5 million towards community-led total sanitation activities bearing in mind that the county has close to twice the number of households from other counties which have partaken the exercise.

ODF means that every household has and uses not only a latrine but also handwashing facility and from statistics, Siaya by far is the third County to have achieved ODF status after Busia and Kituyi counties.

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