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AmeriCares Haiti Celebrates Global Hand Washing Day

  • October 15, 2012

Good hygiene saves lives in the midst of a deadly cholera epidemic

Stamford, Conn. – Oct. 15, 2012 – AmeriCares is supporting hand washing demonstrations at schools, public spaces and tent camps throughout Haiti today in recognition of Global Hand Washing Day. While good hygiene is important everywhere, in Haiti, where a cholera epidemic has sickened nearly 600,000 people and killed more than 7,500, it can mean the difference between life and death. Cholera is contracted by drinking or cooking with contaminated water and spreads quickly in areas like Haiti with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. Hand washing is one of the key methods for preventing the spread of the disease. Global Hand Washing Day is the one day of the year focused on community and household activities that can prevent the spread of deadly diarrheal diseases and save lives.

The AmeriCares Haiti team based in Port-au-Prince supplied 53 water dispensers with spigots, 50 gallons of liquid bleach to disinfect unclean water and 3,100 bars of soap for cholera prevention activities in the Delmas, Petion-Ville, Carrefour and Cazeau neighborhoods. AmeriCares staff will also promote hand washing through a dedicated radio show today to remind the public of the importance of hand washing and hygiene. There will be an accompanying hand washing demonstration for the public outside of the radio station.

Today’s activities include:

  • Hand washing demonstrations at schools, public markets, community centers and camps for people displaced by the earthquake
  • Training on why hand washing is important to mitigate cholera and other diarrheal diseases
  • Door to door visits to promote the benefits of hand washing

“Good hygiene and sanitation are key ingredients to staying healthy, and in Haiti, where clean water is scarce, we must pass on this message at every opportunity,” said AmeriCares Haiti Country Director Brian Hoyer. “Especially with the ongoing cholera outbreak, the health risks of unclean water can be deadly. One of the simplest and most effective ways to combat the epidemic is thorough hand washing.

Cholera prevention has been a key focus of AmeriCares post-earthquake relief efforts in Haiti since the outbreak began in October 2010. Over the past two years, AmeriCares has delivered cholera treatment and prevention supplies including intravenous fluids, oral rehydration salts and hand sanitizer to 189 health care facilities throughout the country, enabling up to 230,000 children and adults to receive treatment.