14 October 2016, Caloocan City – the Department of Education led all schools in the Philippines in the celebration of Global Handwashing Day. Held at Kalayaan Elementary School in North Caloocan, the event was conducted to raise awareness on the value of handwashing with soap as the single most effective, simple and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives.
The theme this year, “Making Handwashing a Habit,” highlighted the importance of handwashing with soap at critical times. The education sector in particular has a crucial role in imparting the knowledge on the significance and the critical times for handwashing, through health teaching as part of the curriculum and the skills to properly wash hands. In addition, schools can also encourage the habit of handwashing among children by making it part of the school routine and by ensuring that washing facilities with soap and water are made available for group handwashing and are accessible near toilet facilities.
The event brought strong involvement from various relevant stakeholders, especially from Department of Education, represented by Undersecretary Alain del P. Pascua of the Department of Education, Dr. Rizalino Jose T. Rosales and Dr. Ella Cecilia G. Naliponguit of the Bureau of Learner Support Services, Dr. Ponciano A. Menguito, Regional Director of DepEd National Capital Region, and Dr. Rita E. Riddle, Schools Division Superintendent of the Division of Caloocan. The local government was represented by Hon. Oscar Malapitan, Mayor of Caloocan City and by Mr. Santiago Sia, General Manager of North Caloocan City Hall. The Department of Health, represented by Dr. Corazon Flores, Assistant Regional Driector of DoH National Capital Region also participated in the event. Development partners also took part: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH led by Ms. Nicole Siegmund, UNICEF Philippines represented by Mr. Jon Michael Villasenor, and Save the Children led Dr. Amado Parawan and Ms. Reggie Aquino. Maynilad Water Services, Inc., under the lead of Mr. Rosmon M. Tuazon, also joined the event.
One highlight of the GHD celebration was a message from Undersecretary Alain Del B. Pascua of the Department of Education. He urged students to make handwashing a habit, especially at critical times, after using the toilet, before eating, and before preparing food. He also highlighted DepEd’s commitment to WASH in Schools, especially in light of the issuance of Department Order No. 10, s.2016, on Policy and Guidelines for Comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene in Schools Program last February 2016. He also announced DepEd’s pledge to finance hygiene kits for students and WASH facilities in schools.
The GHD celebration was jointly organized by the WASH in Schools Technical Working Group, composed of the GIZ, International Medical Corps, Save the Children and UNICEF Philippines.
The Department of Education also issued a press release on Global Handwashing Day at http://www.deped.gov.ph/press-releases/%E2%80%8Bdeped-partners-make-handwashing-soap-habit .
(Photo credit: Philippine Department of Education)