Cotabato City (October 26, 2015) – Hundreds of officials and employees of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as well as elementary school pupils demonstrated proper handwashing with soap as part of the region’s celebration of the 2015 Global Handwashing Day at the ARMM Compound here on Monday, October 26.The region’s Department of Education (DepEd-ARMM), together with the Department of Health (DOH-ARMM), led the celebration. Dr. John Magno, DepEd-ARMM secretary, said handwashing with soap is a low-cost but effective intervention to prevent hygiene-related illnesses among school children in the region.
“Handwashing with soap is a ‘do-it-yourself vaccine’ that prevents infections, and saves lives,” Dr. Magno said. In the Philippines, diseases related to lack of hygiene, such as diarrhea and respiratory infections, are still the leading causes of illnesses and death among children.
The handwashing day bears the theme “Raise a hand for hygiene”, and was aimed at promoting handwashing and raising awareness on how to prevent hygiene-related illnesses.
Since 2011, the ARMM government, specifically the DepEd-ARMM, together with nongovernmental organizations, has been implementing Essential Health Care Program in 400 schools across the region, which focuses on daily group handwashing with soap, daily group toothbrushing with fluoride toothpaste, and the bi-annual de-worming.
Ten million students in the Philippines, including those in ARMM, underwent de-worming in July 29 this year during the National Deworming Day. The de-worming, which is conducted every six months, will be administered in 400 schools in January 2016.
Dr. Kadil Sinolinding, DOH-ARMM secretary, stressed that “de-worming tablets are safe, but may cause adverse effects including nausea, weakness or diarrhea” because the body would be getting rid of the worms.
In ARMM, nearly four in 10 children are infected with intestinal worms. Children with worms have poor performance, almost always weak and tired, and have impaired mental and physical developments, as well as lack nutrients in their bodies.
“In the past decade, the parasite prevalence among children in ARMM has decreased from 75% to 38%. However, the momentum must continue to rid our children of worms,” Dr. Magno added.
The DepEd-ARMM, DOH-ARMM and the PhilHealth-ARMM signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding that rekindles the strategic mutual understanding among the agencies in the protection and promotion of children’s right to health.
Ronnie Liang, a Filipino balladeer, was chosen as the Handwashing Ambassador for ARMM. (Bureau of Public Information)