FIJI celebrated its biggest-ever Global Handwashing Day yesterday as about 10,000 schoolchildren around the country marked the annual event.
Minister for Social Welfare Dr Jiko Luveni launched the event at Vashist Muni Primary School in Navua and underlined the importance of the simple practice.
"Handwashing with soap is the most effective and cheapest means of preventing diarrheal and acute respiratory infections, which take the lives of millions of children each year," Dr Luveni said.
She said ingraining the practice of washing hands before meals and after visiting the toilet could cut deaths from diarrhoea by half.
She added that it was "critical to meeting the millennium development goal of reducing deaths among children under the age of five by two-thirds by 2015".
"Children, the segment of society so often the most energetic, enthusiastic, and open to new ideas, can be powerful agents for changing behaviours like handwashing with soap in their communities."
School headmaster Sunil Karan said it was the school's duty to provide information to children concerning their health.
He said he hoped that children around the country would gain from the information that was given to them throughout the campaign.