Pakistan loses 4 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) because of sanitation and water related issues, 39000 children die every year due to poor sanitation, therefore people from all walks life need to join hands to raise awareness about hygienic practices, Climate Change minister said.
Zahid Hamid, minister for Climate Change and Law and Justice said this while addressing the launch ceremony of Saaf Sehatmand Pakistan’s (Clean Healthy Pakistan) nationwide campaign to promote healthy living by empowering members of the society with knowledge to change harmful practices linked water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH).
Hand washing has positive impact over the growth of children, he said, adding that changing behaviours of people towards hygienic practices is one of the main parts of this serious issue.
The minister said that Pakistan is fully committed to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda for 2030. The National Assembly of Pakistan is the first in the world that unanimously passed a resolution adopting the SDGs addenda as its own development agenda.
He said we must combine our expertise in health, education, communication and community knowledge to raise and promote hygienic and safe practices.
Siddiq Ahmad Khan, country director of WaterAid, said as many as 39000 children under the age of five die every year and three million people hit beds in hospitals. Pakistan loses 4pc of its GDP because of sanitation and water related issues. “Everyone must demonstrate improved behaviours of water, sanitation and hygiene for healthier lives, this is the vision of the campaign,” he said.
Imran Shami, Country Director Plan International Pakistan said that Pakistan is among the top five courtiers in the world with highest rate of diarrheal deaths. Every year, 53,000 children die solely from diarrhea and 60 percent of infant deaths occur because of poor sanitation, which to be honest is easily preventable.
Saaf Sehatmand Pakistan is anchored on the philosophy that poor sanitation and hygiene practices affect the community on large. Children suffering from continuous bouts of diarrhea or other infections resulting from poor water and sanitation are most likely to fall behind in school or drop out altogether, limiting their ability to release their full potential.
Cristian Munduate, UNICEF deputy representative, said that empowering people with the right information allows them to take appropriate actionand such initiatives should create a num norm where everyone understands the importance of simple action like washing hands with soaps, she said.