الأحد، 28 نوفمبر، 2010

Water Awareness Campaign Speech by the Free State MEC of Health, Mr ST Belot

Water Awareness Campaign
Speech by the Free State MEC of Health, Mr ST Belot
Jagersfontein
18 March 2005


Hon Members of Portfolio Committee for Health
Hon Mayors
Councillors
Members of the community
Learners
Ladies and Gentleman

Water is one of nature's most important gifts to mankind, which is essential to life; a person's survival depends on drinking water. Water is one of the most essential elements to good health - it is necessary for the digestion and absorption of food; helps maintain proper muscle tone; supplies oxygen and nutrients to the cells; rids the body of wastes; and serves as a natural air conditioning system, therefore it is important to use it meaningfully.

It is indeed an honour to be requested to launch the National Water Week campaign, in the Free State. National Water Week is celebrated from 21 to 27 March. The Free State Government is committed to improve the quality of life of all citizens of Free State Province by providing them with access to basic water and sanitation service. Let us work together in emphasising the theme for water awareness week: “WATER IS LIFE, SANITATION IS DIGNITY”

BACKGROUND

At the World Summit for Children in 1990, the goal of universal access to safe water and sanitation by the year 2000 was adopted to promote the survival, protection and development of children. The Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council or WSSCC recognised water and sanitation as the foundation of public health and social progress and the key to improving children’s survival, health and development through the adoption of what is commonly known as Vision 21 – which is a shared vision for hygiene, sanitation and water supply. WSSCC developed the following targets to be achieved by member countries:

• By 2015 to reduce by one half the proportion of people without access to hygienic sanitation facilities, school of people without sustainable access to adequate quantities of affordable and safe water.
• By 2025 to provide water, sanitation, and hygiene for all.

The celebration of National Water Week comes at a time when government has significantly responded positively to the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council’s (WSSCC) target of reducing by half the proportion of people without sustainable access to adequate quantities of affordable and safe water by 2015. The Free State Province has committed itself to provide access to a functioning basic water supply facility by 2008, access to functioning basic sanitation facility by 2010 and that Hygiene education and the wise use of water is taught in all schools by 2005.

Programme Director; allow me to highlight that Free State provincial government has done well in improving access to safe drinking water. To date 95,64% of the Free State population has access to relatively safe drinking water, and 4,3% of the population have access to water from not necessarily safe sources. (Stats South Africa: 2001)

Children are our main target audience for this campaign, often they are the first to pick up hygiene messages and change their behaviour; adults may be reluctant to alter habits ingrained over the course of a lifetime. The water awareness campaign recognises that children are often responsible for the care of younger siblings and teaches them to become health educators for their family, friends and ultimately the whole community. The backlog that we are addressing with regard to access to safe water and proper sanitation still exposes poor communities to various health risks, including cholera. However, government is making progress in meeting its targets on improving access to these services.

The Department of Health in collaboration with Department of Water Affairs and Forestry have recently developed a National Health and Hygiene Education Strategy. The National Health and Hygiene Education Strategy aims to present an approach to the delivery of effective and sustainable health and hygiene education as part of:

• Water services delivery programmes, and
• The Water Services Authorities’ ongoing community support and operation and maintenance via the services of a Water Service Providers (WSP)

This strategy targets a wide range of community-based stakeholders. Those that should receive and benefit from health and hygiene education programs include:

• Households
• Children, through schools
• Community focus groups
o Women’s groups
o Community Based Organisations
o Youth groups
• Local leadership structures such as
o Politicians and
o Traditional Leaders

These target groups will be reached through the following key interventions:

• Health and Hygiene education as a component of water and sanitation projects through joint partnership with Department of Health and Department of Water Affairs and Forestry.
• Health and Hygiene education modules as part of the primary health care programs.
• Health and Hygiene education as part of the school curriculum through partnership with Department of Education.
• National mass media programs such as the WASH program
• Provincial and District Health and Hygiene education programs

Today it is not a day for long speeches, but a day of creating water awareness in our community. All of us gathered here today, diverse as we may be - we are entrusted with a duty to ensure the well being of our nation - be it in the physical or spiritual sense. Let us use this opportunity to find tangible ways in which we work together in building a healthy nation that is free of diseases.

Every person shall have the right to an environment which is not detrimental to his or her health."

I thank you!

Issued by: Department of Health, Free State Provincial Government
18 March 2005

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