Minister of Local Government and Housing, Emerine Kabanshi, has disclosed that government is increasing allocation of resources to the water supply and sanitation sub-sector in order to reduce poverty and promote development.

Ms. Kabanshi observed that it is a well established fact that hands accumulate germs, which can only be removed by washing hands with water and soap.

She was speaking this evening at the eve of the commemoration of the sanitation week which starts tomorrow, October 8, 2012, and will culminate into the commemoration of Global Hand Washing day on October15. She noted that the objective of global hand washing day is to promote a global and local culture of washing hands with soap.

Ms Kabanshi reiterated that the 2012 Global Hand Washing day marks the fifth anniversary of Global Hand Washing day, adding that the international community, Zambia inclusive, is celebrating the 5thbirthday of millions of kids around the world this year.

She explained that hand washing with soap can help prevent diarrheal diseases, pneumonia and other diseases that prevent many children from reaching their 5th birthday.

Ms Kabanshi stated that buying a tablet of soap or liquid for hand washing during critical times is cheaper than treating patients, adding that it is a life-saving practice to wash hands with soap every day.

The minister maintained that government is concerned about poor sanitation, health and hygiene practices that have contributed to illnesses and deaths that could be prevented by simple habits such as this one. She affirmed that it is for this reason that government initiated an integrated national campaign, called make Zambia Clean and Healthy.

Ms Kabanshi said government realizes the need for increased investment in water supply and sanitation infrastructure and services in order to improve the health of the majority of citizens. She observed that it is only through healthy and productive citizens that Zambia can achieve sustainable development, hence the commitment to promoting sanitation and hygiene behaviour.

The minister urged public places such as restaurants, health centres, schools and markets among others to always have adequate water supply, hand washing facilities, toilets and sanitary necessities like toilet paper and soap. She said government is aware that issues of cleanliness and hygiene are largely personal matters that should effectively be promoted at individual and family levels, adding that if not adequately addressed, poor personal hygiene has potential of becoming a public health hazard.

Ms Kabanshi urged the local authorities to step up inspection of public places to ensure that they conform to the provisions of the Public Health Act.

She disclosed that during the commemoration week, her ministry, partnering with other line ministries, the NGO-Wash forum, UNICEF and the private sector have lined up several activities such as distributing sanitation, health and hygiene education materials and soap in selected schools around the country.

Ms Kabanshi stated that the lined up activities around the country on global hand washing day have been set to as well remind everyone to “help more children reach their 5th birthday” by building a culture of washing hands with soap.

She advised local authorities and water utility companies countrywide to initiate, co-ordinate and implement activities aimed at promoting sanitation and hygiene, adding that these activities should continue beyond the sanitation week and the global hand washing day commemoration.

The Local Government Minister observed that the rainy season is around the corner and that this is the time there are high cases of waterborne-related diseases, such as cholera, mainly due to poor sanitation and hygiene practices.

She noted that cases of waterborne-related diseases can be curtailed by adhering to basic sanitation and hygiene practices such as boiling drinking water, avoiding buying meat and its products from open markets and streets and, of course, always washing hands with soap.

Ms Kabanshi expressed happiness to the cooperating partners, the private sector, the NGO-Wash Forum, UNICEF and all those who are supporting government’s efforts in improving the lives of fellow Zambians.