Govt strives to prevent child mortality from diarrhoeal diseases

Chinsali, Oct 16/12, ZANIS-----------Government says it will do its best in ensuring that mortality rate arising from diarrhoeal diseases is prevented among children in the country.


Government has also reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring that schools and communities have access to adequate, clean and safe drinking water as well as appropriate sanitation services.


Muchinga Province Minister, Malozo Sichone, says the Government is also committed to the promotion of good hygienic practices like washing of hands with soap through the Water   Sanitation and Health Education (WASHE) programme and several other ways in order to prevent death arising from diarrhoeal diseases.


In a speech read on his behalf by the Provincial Education Officer (PEO) for Muchinga Province, Jobbicks Kalumba, during the commemoration of the Global Hand-washing Day held at Mulilansolo Basic School in Chinsali district yesterday, Mr Sichone observed that access to adequate, safe and clean drinking water and sanitation facilities in urban, peri-urban and rural areas has remained unsatisfactory.


He also noted that hygiene education information regarding precautions to be undertaken by everyone in a situation where there is inadequate water and sanitation, still remains a challenge.


“The Government is well aware that in schools, water and sanitation facilities, especially those with hand washing facilities, are often not sufficient to meet the increased enrolment levels,” said Mr Sichone.


The Provincial Minister said pupils and teachers alike are subjected to risks of disease due to lack of water and sanitation facilities, adding that ailments that come as a result of this inadequacy affect the learning environment in schools, leading to increased absenteeism of both pupils and teachers, and higher dropout rates, especially amongst the girl child.


Mr Sichone charged that hand washing infrastructure is absent in most of the schools in the country adding that only a few schools with financial support from UNICEF, WATERAID, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have effective hand washing facilities that could serve as a model.


He told the gathering that included heads of government t departments, pupils and their parents ,civic and traditional leaders that the USAID - funded school wash and quality education project, implemented by Development Aid for from People to People (DAPP) in Muchinga and Northern Provinces is helping to ensure that there are hand-washing tanks in schools.


And Mr Sichone disclosed that a recent survey, found that out of 8,596 schools in Zambia, 1,349 did not have water facilities while 502 learning institutions did not have toilets affecting over 1,000,000 pupils.

He said out of the schools that have sanitation facilities, 54 per cent rely on unimproved pit latrines.


Mr Sichone said the c entral Government alone cannot manage and as such, the local Government, on-state actors, and communities themselves need to come in to find solutions to such problems.


However, he said he was, glad that the Government of Zambia has overwhelming support from cooperating partners to ensure that children have access to adequate, clean and safe drinking water and sanitation facilities.


“The Government has robust plans to improve access to adequate, clean and safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in both schools and communities in order to reduce the disease burden among our people,” he said.


Speaking at the same function, DAPP Chief of Party, Peter Chilemu, said in order to make hand washing a practical exercise, the project has constructed 879 hand washing facilities in both Northern and Muchinga Provinces in the last three years.


Mr Chilemu said his project has trained 3,315 teachers in how to integrate water and sanitation education in the school curriculum while 1,030 administrators have been trained to monitor adherence to water and sanitation and hygiene education in the schools.


He said that USAID will continue to work with the Zambian Government and other partners to improve water and sanitation in schools and homes around the country and further thanked the Government for providing a conducive environment for them to carry out development works.


And Chief Mubanga of the Bemba people of Chinsali thanked the American people for their support in constructing hand washing tanks, boreholes, and toilets in schools.


The Global Hand washing Day commemoration was celebrated under the theme “Help more children reach their 5thbirthday”.