ISLAMABAD - Ministry of Environment has planned to involve one million children across Pakistan in hand washing activities today (October 15) to mark The Global Hand Washing Day, informed a senior official of the Ministry on Tuesday. Global Hand Washing Day is aimed at supporting and promoting a culture of hand washing with soap before meals and after using the toilet. Events in line with the celebration of the Day have been arranged by the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with national and international organizations like United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), Proctor and Gamble, Unilever and United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the official informed. Ministry of Environment and its partners would reach about 1 million children in a single day to involve them in hand washing activities in all the four provinces of the country. In this context, Federal Secretary, Ministry of Environment, along with the representatives of UNICEF, WHO and Proctor and Gamble would address a press conference to highlight the significance of the event and brief the media about the initiatives taken in Pakistan to promote hand-washing and safe hygiene practices in the country, the official revealed.    According to a recent report, more than 3.5 million children across the globe die every year before their fifth birthday because of diarrheal diseases and pneumonia. Hand washing with soap, before taking meal and after using toilet, is among the most effective and inexpensive ways to prevent the said diseases. Studies in Pakistan and elsewhere have proven that washing hands with soap for just 20 second each time reduces the death toll due to the above mentioned diseases by some 50 percent, the official said. Studies reveal that 48 per cent population of South Asia doesn't use toilets. The practice paves the way for serious health risks from diarrhea, worm infestations, hepatitis and acute respiratory infections like pneumonia, the biggest killer of children. It is also one of the greatest environmental hazards and the greatest contributor to malnutrition in the region.  The official further said that the Global Hand Washing Day would prove the biggest ever exercise of its kind when more than 120 million children across South Asia would wash their hands with soap at the same time to mark the Day. It is pertinent to mention here that UNO has announced the year 2008 as the 'Global Year of Sanitation'. Events on Global Hand Washing Day are being centered around schools, drama groups, presented by animated characters on television, cartoons in newspapers, jingles on radio stations and television shows to show that hand washing with soap would make a significant contribution to the region in terms of public health.  Specially timed songs, of 20-25 seconds, will ring out across the length and breadth of South Asia, so children will get into the swing of making hand washing a fun habit.