Changing behaviours must for achieving safe sanitation and hygiene practices: Mushahid Ullah Khan

Islamabad, April 24, 2015 (PPI-OT): Federal Minister for Climate Change, Senator Mushahid Ullah Khan, said that promoting better excreta disposal behaviours and hygiene habits are the most important measure to improve public health and reduce human suffering and financial loss.

“Good hygiene and sanitation practices are closely linked and there is an increasing body of evidence that confirms that hygiene behaviour change is an essential part of achieving the health impacts associated with improved water supply and sanitation,” the minister said highlighted during his meeting with the Mr. Girish Menon, Director of International Programmes and Deputy Chief Executive of WaterAid, a UK-based international charity organization.

The meeting took place here at the Ministry of Climate Change. Secretary Ministry of Climate Change Arif Ahmed Khan, Director-General (Environment and Climate Change) Sajjad Ahmad Bhutta, WaterAid’s country head in Pakistan Siddiqui Ahmad Khan and Urban Planner at the UN-Habitat Sarmad Khan also attended the meeting.

The minister said that he believes investments to improve sanitation and hygiene in developing countries like Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal can yield substantial health gains lower governments’ annual health spending and lead to substantial economic benefits.

The minister said that though access to improved water sources has increased (91% at present), unfortunately only 48% people (23% of the total population) have access to improved sanitation facilities. “At present, over 40 million people practice open defecation in the country, for they lack toilets in their homes.

Mushahidullah Khan stressed upon role of parliamentarians in upscalling water, sanitation and hygine (WASH) programmes going on in the country and their ownership for making these programmes successful.

“But, to achieve this politicians equally require capacity-building thorough awareness programmes about the WASH programmes that how these programmes, if implemented, can boost socio-economic growth in a country like Pakistan, where millions are still without toilets and lack adequate access to clean drinking water and safe satiation,”

WaterAid’s Girish Menon told the minister that hygiene promotion can act as the means to create demand for sanitation and thereby increase coverage. However, hygiene promotion not only has the potential to boost feel-good health impacts of WASH programmes (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), but also increase sanitation coverage.

“Increasing sanitation hardware/infrastructure provision alone is not enough,” he cationed, and said, “there is now evidence that focusing on hygiene promotion is the most cost-effective way of reducing diarrhoeal disease, particularly amongst children in South Asian countries including Pakistan.”

Secretary Ministry of Climate Change, Arif Ahmed Khan, also emphasized on need to boost innovative awareness programmes particularly teachers, mothers, religious leaders and traditional as well as social media too bring about behavioural change among the communities for adopting safe sanitation and hygiene practices that will protect them from falling victim to water-borne diseases, particularly gastroenteritis.

“Being strong family and social opinion leaders, mothers, teachers can do wonders regarding the promotion of positive behaviours for sanitation and hygiene practices. But they equally needed to be made aware of best sanitation and hygiene practices,” he stressed.

But, the programmes for bringing about behavioural change in any target community should be framed in the light of local culture, tradition and values for gaining a community’s owners, suggested, Sajjad Ahmad Bhutta, director general (environment and climate change).

Earlier, WaterAid’s country representative in Pakistan, Siddique Ahmad Khan, offered senator Mushahid Ullah Khan to be ambassador of a national campaign on water, sanitation and hygiene, which would be launched soon for boosting awareness about the importance of practicing safe sanitation and hygiene practices and how it can help cut household health budgets and boost overall national productivity.

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565

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