Handwashing in Ghana: Our Hands, Our Future

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Handwashing in Ghana: Our Hands, Our Future

We do not need expensive supplies or high-tech treatments to prevent diseases and save the lives of children. Despite this, an unacceptably high number of children are still dying from easily preventable diarrheal diseases in Ghana. Cholera outbreaks are continuing to take lives needlessly and using up resources that could be used for other things.


These highly preventable diarrheal diseases are responsible for 18 per cent of infant and child mortality in Ghana. To stop this, one of the most effective things we can do is wash our hands more frequently and wash them with soap.

You may ask how. Washing hands with soap prevents the transmission of a variety of bacteria and viruses, which cannot be removed by water alone. Some of these viruses and bacteria cause diarrheal disease such as cholera and pneumonia, two of the primary causes of child deaths in Ghana, as well as absenteeism at school and work.

Washing hands with soap at critical times — after using the toilet, changing a child and before eating food — can reduce the incidents of diarrheal disease by nearly 40 percent. It can cut the rates of respiratory infections by about one-quarter. Globally, handwashing with soap can prevent many of the 272 million schooldays lost each year to diarrheal disease and half of the infections acquired in healthcare settings.

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