The First Lady of the Republic of Kenya Speech at the 2020 Global Handwashing Day

by Amref Health Africa

Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

It gives me great pleasure to join you in commemorating Global Hand Washing Day. Today’s event is particularly significant for all of us because it is not just about supporting health and hygiene habits, today, it is even more significant; it is about safeguarding our lives.

On a separate note, I would also like to take this opportunity to recognize that this is the month of October, the Breast Cancer month.

It is a powerful reminder to draw our attention on the importance of early detection and screening because it saves the lives of both men and women.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Now more than ever, we need to embrace and change the way we think about health and the measures we need to take to protect ourselves, our families and our communities.

Handwashing and hygiene have never been more topical or important, than in our current situation.

Washing our hands with soap and water frequently is something that we have often taken for granted. This simple act may seem obvious that we sometimes do not see it as a game changing solution – we often forget that it saves lives.

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a stark reminder that one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of virus is also one of the simplest: through good hand hygiene, especially through handwashing with soap.

Commemorating this day is a collective effort that demonstrates leadership and unity at both global and national level.

The global advocacy effort draws our attention to the urgent issue of hand washing with soap and water; it is a solution we can all implement.

Access to clean water is a universal right. This year’s theme, ‘’Hand Hygiene for All’’, underscores the global commitment to achieve access for water for all as a basic human right.

It reinforces political will and commitment for the provision of water to every Kenyan as part of the Government’s universal health agenda.

I commend both National and County Governments for their respective investments in this area and for the policies and frameworks that facilitate access to water and hand washing.

I also congratulate the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) sectors for their role in advocacy, community engagement to bring about behavior change and creation of infrastructure that reinforces handwashing.

These partners have helped accelerate Governments efforts to greatly reduce the burden of disease.

These collective actions also remind us of our own individual responsibilities in society; everyone has a role to play.

Our experience during this COVID-19 pandemic has strengthened our resilience and unity of spirit to fight the effects of this disease.

We have seen institutions and coalitions such as the UN family, the National Business Compact on Coronavirus and many others spearheading the hand washing and protective hygiene agenda. They have championed hand washing initiatives at grass root level which have impacted vulnerable and marginalized communities across the country.

In closing, I thank AMREF Africa for hosting this important event as well as the Ministry of Health and the National Business Compact on Coronavirus for using it as a way to reinvigorate and reconfirm our commitment to embracing handwashing at all levels.

I wish you all a clean and healthy Global Handwashing Day

Asanteni sana

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