Islamabad - Climate Change division in collaboration with water, sanitation & hygiene (WASH) sector partners has called for a national level campaign for promoting the practice of hand washing with soap, drawing the public and private sector partners on their comparative strengths, resources and best practices to create effective, large-scale and sustainable hand washing promotion programmes.

A press conference in this regard was held here on Tuesday at National Press Club, which was widely attended by development partners.

The event was inaugurated by Irfan Tariq of Climate Change division, government of Pakistan, followed by comments of representatives from UNICEF, WSP, WaterAid, WSSCC, WHO, Plan Pakistan and PIEDAR. It was urged that the concerned government line departments such as health, education, local government, public health & engineering department and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), private sector, community groups and above all print and electronic media must use every opportunity to promote hand washing with soap, based on the lessons learned.

To build the political momentum and accelerate the progress of sanitation and hygiene in Pakistan, it was announced that a national campaign is being launched at the national and provincial level in late 2014. As a first step towards the initiation of a campaign, a national conference on sanitation known as Pakistan Conference on Sanitation (PACOSAN) is being proposed by the government of Pakistan, Climate Change division in collaboration with the provincial governments, key development partners and other related ministries.

The conference would be a three-day event scheduled from November 19-21, 2014 with the objectives of demonstrating a political vision to reach all with sanitation services in Pakistan and mobilise all the sector stakeholders to renew their joint commitment to invest in the sanitation and hygiene sector through policies and programmes that deliver equitable and sustainable sanitation services to all.

Worldwide, 15th October is remembered as hand washing day. The objective is to increase awareness about waterborne diseases and encourage masses for hand washing with soap. It has been shown that it can reduce mortality with such disease whose worst sufferers are children under 5 years of age.

Pakistan Islamic Medical Association (PIMA) initiated Hygiene Improvement Project (HIP) mainly for flood-affected village population of Upper Sindh (Shikarpur and Khairpur) and lately lower Punjab (Rahim Yar Khan) has covered a total of 61,061 adult populations (including 20,763 in RYK); gender distribution was roughly 50-50 per cent.

Dr Abdul Aziz Memon, central general secretary PIMA and in-charge hygiene improvement project (HIP), launched annual report. He said that a very important aspect of the project was a survey conducted pre-session (to assess the background knowledge of the community) and a post-survey conducted after a few weeks to assess the difference in both awareness and practices, produced, if any, as a result of the hygiene session.

According to the results 89% of the community was using ground water as primary source, other was using water supply by the authorities. Neither source has been tested even once. Before the project activities 33% of the surveyed community used wide mouth and uncovered containers for storing drinking water. The use of narrow mouth, covered containers rose from 47% to 72% after the sessions.