HONG KONG, 13 October 2011 – The peak season of common childhood infections, such as hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), enterovirus infection,etc starts in October, posing a serious menace to the health of Hong Kong children. As no effective vaccine for the above-mentioned diseases is available so far, good hygiene practices such as handwashing with soap is the mainstay of prevention. The Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF (HKCU) first introduced 15 October – Global Handwashing Day (GHD) to Hong Kong this year and officially launched the campaign today. After the kick-off, 40 GHD Student Handwashing Leaders from different secondary schools started to conduct teaching sessions in over 20 kindergartens until the end of this year, promoting the message ‘Clean Hands Save Lives’ to children and public through the handwashing dance and puppet show performance.
According to Centre for Health Protection, Department of Health, HFMD activity continues to rise in early autumn. A small peak of HFMD and enterovirus 71 infection also occurs from October to December, which patients can suffer from severe medical complications and even death. On the other hand, the Centre also expects to receive 50 new cases of scarlet fever weekly, especially among children, although activity of the disease remained stable recently after causing two deaths in the middle of this year. Besides the above mention disease, top two killer diseases, pneumonia and diarrheoa are still threatening and killing over 3.5 million of children globally every year.
In fact, preventing such communicable diseases and reducing under-five child mortality can be as simple and cost-effective as handwashing with soap. At critical moments, including before eating or handling food and after using toilets, handwashing with soap can significantly reduce infections of diarrhoea and acute respiratory infections by nearly 40 per cent and 23 per cent respectively. However, rates of handwashing around the world are still low. Observed rates of handwashing with soap at critical moments range from 0 to 34 per cent. In light of this, there is not a moment to lose to raise public awareness of handwashing at critical moments.
Ensuring a “first call for children”, UNICEF has initiated the first GHD campaign since the day was created in 2008, with a view to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015. Through active collaboration with partners, GHD has successfully been launched in over 80 countries and regions such as Indonesia, Australia, Japan and China, organising promotion and education to deliver the important message “Clean Hands Save Lives”. It
is anticipated that the health of children can be enhanced by fostering a global culture of handwashing.
“Handwashing is important to children not only in developing countries, but also developed regions like Hong Kong.” said Ms Irene Chan, Chief Executive of HKCU, “We should not overlook the threat of infectious diseases like hand, foot and mouth disease, and scarlet fever, in view of the frequent outbreaks of these diseases over recent years in Hong Kong. In addition, diseases could spread extremely fast in this crowded Hong Kong, developing an ingrained habit of proper handwashing is thus of great importance and urgency to Hong Kong people.”
This year, in response to the international call from UNICEF Headquarter, HKCU introduced the GHD into Hong Kong for the first time and launched GHD School Promotion Campaign. To promote “Clean Hands Save Lives”, the key message of GHD, HKCU invited famous DJ Chu Fun and four lovely children to perform in a music video to depict proper handwashing steps and critical moments to wash hands via dance and song. Dr Zhenbo Yang, Chief of the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programme of UNICEF China also came to Hong Kong and taught over 40 secondary students from 10 secondary schools (refer to the table below) proper ways of handwashing and health and sanitation knowledge, preparing them to be GHD Student Handwashing Leaders.
At the press conference, all Student Handwashing Leaders pledged to promote handwashing culture in Hong Kong, “We, Global Handwashing Day Student Handwashing Leaders, on behalf of the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF, pledge to disseminate the message of ‘Clean Hands Save Lives’ to the public, upholding children’s right to survive.” They are then divided into groups of four and started their school tour to over 20 kindergartens, promoting handwashing by demonstrating the proper way and steps of handwashing – to wash palms, back of hands, between fingers, back of fingers, thumbs, finger tips and wrists respectively with soap within 20 seconds (around the time of singing the birthday song twice) till the end of this year.
After the press conference, a team of Student Handwashing Leader representatives, composed of four students from The Hong Kong Management Association K S Lo College immediately started conducting their teaching session in Causeway Bay Victoria Kindergarten & International Kindergarten, the pilot kindergarten of the GHD School Promotion Campaign. They taught the “Clean Hands Save Lives” dance and performed a GHD puppet show with DIY puppets and scripts created by themselves.
“Washing our hands with soap and following the seven simple steps of proper handwashing can definitely help prevent the spreading of infectious diseases, promote the handwashing culture and develop Hong Kong into a city with strong protection against diseases,” Ms Chan said.
Ten schools joining Global Handwashing Day Student Handwashing Leaders are as follows:
1 Belilios Public School
2 Canadian International School of Hong Kong
3 Caritas Fanling Chan Chun Ha Secondary School
4 Delia Memorial School (Yuet Wah)
5 Discovery College
6 Elegantia College (Sponsored by Education Convergence)
7 Fanling Kau Yan College
8 Madam Lau Kam Lung Secondary School of MFBM
9 Pooi To Middle School
10 The Hong Kong Management Association K S Lo College
Please click here
the event photos and Global Handwashing Day promotion video
Please click here
to visit to official webpage of
Global Handwashing Day Campaign in Hong Kong