Call for hand­wash­ing fa­cil­i­ties at food out­lets

Lesotho Times - - Business - Retha­bile Pitso

CIVIL so­ci­ety or­gan­i­sa­tions and the Min­istry of Health have called on food out­lets to pro­vide hand­wash­ing fa­cil­i­ties for their cus­tomers and staff to stem the preva­lence of di­ar­rhea and acute res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions (ARI).

The or­gan­i­sa­tions, which in­clude the Trans­for­ma­tion Re­source Cen­tre (TRC), Tech­nolo­gies for Eco­nomic De­vel­op­ment (TED) and the min­istry is­sued a joint state­ment in Maseru on Mon­day ahead of Global Hand­wash­ing Day com­mem­o­ra­tions on 15 Oc­to­ber 2015.

Global Hand­wash­ing Day is a cam­paign to mo­ti­vate and mo­bilise peo­ple around the world to im­prove their hand­wash­ing habits by wash­ing their hands with soap at crit­i­cal mo­ments through­out each day. It is also meant to in­crease aware­ness and un­der­stand­ing about the im­por­tance of hand­wash­ing with soap as an ef­fec­tive and af­ford­able way to pre­vent dis­eases and save lives.

Ac­cord­ing to the press re­lease, Global Hand­wash­ing Day would be com­mem­o­rated in var­i­ous places start­ing next Thurs­day in Maseru to 6 Novem­ber 2015 in Mo­hale’s Hoek. This year, the com­mem­o­ra­tions will be held un­der the theme “Clean hands save lives! Raise a hand for hy­giene!”

Among the ac­tiv­i­ties lined up in­clude ed­u­cat­ing ven­dors at com­muter om­nibus sta­tions such as Se­fika, Manonyane and Mafafa on the im­por­tance of pro­vid­ing hand­wash­ing fa­cil­i­ties at their stalls. The com­mem­o­ra­tions will also be held in Thaba-koto, Qho- boshea­neng and Le­hata in Qacha’s Nek dis­trict next week and in Leribe at a date yet to be an­nounced. At the na­tional com­mem­o­ra­tions in Mo­hale’s Hoek, the or­gan­i­sa­tions are set to launch the “tippy-tap” — a hands free way to wash hands that is es­pe­cially ap­pro­pri­ate for ru­ral ar­eas where there is no run­ning wa­ter.

The tippy-tap is op­er­ated by a foot lever to re­duce the chance for bac­te­ria trans­mis­sion as the user touches only the soap.

TRC Wa­ter and Dams Mon­i­tor­ing Pro­gramme Of­fi­cer, Hlalele Hlalele, said the cam­paign was meant to stem the spread of dis­eases caused by poor hy­giene and san­i­ta­tion. Di­ar­rhea and ARIS such as pneu­mo­nia ranked highly among the main causes of ad­mis­sion in hos­pi­tals and the en­su­ing mor­tal­i­ties.

“A study con­ducted jointly by the Min­istries of Health and Ed­u­ca­tion in April 2014 found that par­a­sitic in­fec­tions such as soil trans­mit­ted helmithi­a­sis (worms) had a na­tional preva­lence rate of 47 per­cent, with Butha-buthe the worst hit at 99.2 per­cent fol­lowed by Leribe at 94 per­cent while Maseru was bet­ter at 12 per­cent rate,” said Mr Hlalele.

“Given that wash­ing hands with soap could curb the spread of dis­eases by 45 per­cent, we have no­ticed that many busi­nesses lo­cated in town do not of­fer wa­ter basins or hand­wash­ing fa­cil­i­ties for cus­tomers.

“We there­fore call on all food es­tab­lish­ments to be pro­vided with hand­wash­ing fa­cil­i­ties for both han­dlers and cus­tomers in the for­mal and in­for­mal sec­tor to make hand­wash­ing a pri­or­ity be­fore han­dling food in or­der to en­sure hy­giene, safety and pro­tec­tion of their valu­able cus­tomers.”

TED Di­rec­tor Man­topi Le­bofa said they had made head­way in pre­vi­ous cam­paigns to stem the spread of the dis­eases among young chil­dren.

“In the pre­ced­ing years, we vis­ited many pri­mary schools to ed­u­cate chil­dren on the im­por­tance of wash­ing their hands be­fore meals. Our ef­forts have borne fruit in such places as Maqhaka in the Berea Dis­trict where we have noted a sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tion in the preva­lence of dis­eases such as di­ar­rhea,” she said.

“Our cam­paign tar­geted the lit­tle ones be­cause we wanted them to grow up know­ing about good hy­giene prac­tices. Some schools have also built tippy taps.”

The Min­istry of Health’s En­vi­ron­men­tal Health Spe­cial­ist, Mose­peli Ratikane, said there were many health ben­e­fits in wash­ing hands us­ing run­ning wa­ter af­ter us­ing the toi­let and be­fore eat­ing.

“We want com­mu­ni­ties to learn that for one to be well sani­tised, three con­di­tions must be sat­is­fied: the fa­cil­ity must be hands-free to avoid im­me­di­ate con­tam­i­na­tion af­ter wash­ing, it must dis­perse run­ning wa­ter and there must be a soak-away pit avail­able if the fa­cil­ity is a tippy tap to dis­pose the dirty wa­ter. We also en­cour­age wash­ing hands with soap at all times,” Ms Ratikane said.

THE tippy-tap is a hands free way to wash hands that is ap­pro­pri­ate for ru­ral ar­eas where there is no run­ning wa­ter.

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