LAHORE - Save the Children Pakistan in collaboration with the Punjab government arranged an awareness walk from Government Gulab Devi Primary School to the Children Hospital on Friday.

Adviser to Chief Minister Punjab on Health Kh Salman Rafiq led the walk participated by senior officials of local government, Health Department, IMNCH programme, Public Health Engineering, Education Department, Pakistan Pediatric Association and representatives of Save the Children and Civil Society.

As many as 300 school children from Government Gulab Devi School participated in the walk along with their teachers and other staff to highlight the importance of diarrhoea prevention and control for ensuring safe and healthy childhood. The participants were carrying placards and banners inscribed with demands from relevant authorities to take steps to prevent children deaths due to diarrhoea.

Talking to the media, Kh Salman Rafique said: “Access to adequate sanitation is also a challenge in Pakistan, fifty-two percent of the population does not have access to improved sanitation facilities, which leads to open defecation causing the disease.”

He said that supply of drinking water was an important responsibility of the state and the Punjab government was making rapid progress on this front.

Government of Punjab has allocated funds to provide safe drinking water and improve sanitation services in all districts. Punjab government in partnership with Save the Children is piloting a 7 point plan to prevent it.

“In Pakistan, diarrhoea is the second leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age. Over 53,000 children die each year because of preventable causes of diarrhoea”, said Dr Masood Abbasi, Director Save the Children Pakistan for Diarrhoea Prevention & Control Programme.

He further said that Save the Children Pakistan in close collaboration with the Punjab government was working on this program in Hafizabad and Khanewal districts.

This programme is first time focusing on multi-sectoral interventions which include provision of clean drinking water, improved sanitation and personal hygiene.

Progress towards tackling diarrhoea has been slow in Pakistan due to inadequate attention to preventative and treatment interventions such as intake of Oral Rehydration Salt (ORS) and Zinc, inappropriate young child feeding practices, low coverage of routine immunization and inadequate access to safe drinking water and sanitation.