16 Oct 2012

Unicef says global handwashing campaign helped to reduce child mortality

1:11 pm on 16 October 2012

The United Nations Children's Fund, UNICEF says its global handwashing campaign is helping to slash the number of Pacific children dying from preventable diseases.

Unicef, which marked the fifth annual Global Handwashing Day yesterday, says two decades ago, in nine Pacific countries 30 out of every 1,000 children died before their fifth birthday.

The Pacific representative for UNICEF, Dr Isiye Ndombi, says this has halved because of its handwashing campaign in conjunction with its immunisation and nutrition programmes.

"We still lose about 15,000 children in the Pacific every year. And we are saying that 20 percent of them are due to pneumonia and diarrhoea. Now we do know that half of diarrhoea cases and 1/4 of pneumonia cases can be cut by just introducing good handwashing."

Dr Isiye Ndombi says the importance of handwashing is getting through to school children.