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Sachin Tendulkar is featured in a public service announcement to drum up support for the UNICEF to get Indian children to wash their hands for better health and hygiene as part of the first ever Global Handwashing Day on 15th October. The campaign is targeting students in more than six million schools across India.
UNICEF India has a longstanding relationship with BCCI, the Board of Control for Cricket in India, dating back to 1986 when players came out to support and promote polio prevention.
"Having a celebrity of this magnitude, who is instantly recognizable to cricket fans not only in India but around the world, will help us mobilize millions of young people," said Karin Hulshof, UNICEF Representative in India. "Lending free-of-charge his image to promote handwashing with soap will undoubtedly save many children's lives."
"Having two young children, I constantly have to remind them to wash their hands before and after meals," Tendulkar said. "I wanted to be a part of this campaign, because washing hands with soap can keep children safe and healthy and protect them against deadly disease."
The Indian campaign is part of a global movement uniting millions of children in 52 countries across five continents as part of the International Year of Sanitation 2008. Nearly half of the world's population, or 2.6 billion people, to not have access to adequate sanitation. This dire situation has widespread implications on human health, child survival, economic productivity and pollution of living spaces and water resources.
Washing hands with soap is one of the most cost-effective health measures to prevent diarrhoea, the second biggest killer of children in India. Proper handwashing can reduce diarrhoeal cases by 47 per cent and acute respiratory illnesses by 30 per cent.
Washing hands and using toilets properly impacts not only health, but also education. The sanitation coverage in Indian schools is estimated to be about 58 per cent. However, providing private and separate sanitary latrines in school can increase girls' enrolment by 11 per cent. Proper sanitation facilities in schools can drastically improve the chances of a girl finishing her education. Currently, only 34 per cent of India's girls are completing their schooling.
This campaign highlights the need to wash hands with soap before meals and after defecation. Human excreta is the essence of the sanitation challenge. One gram of faeces can contain 10 million viruses, 1 million bacteria, 1,000 parasite cysts and 100 parasite eggs.
Sachin Tendulakar is an Indian cricketer widely regarded as one of the greatest batsmen in the history of cricket. Known as the "Master Blaster," Tendulkar is the first player to score 10,000 runs in one-day internationals, and is among only three batsmen, and the first Indian, to surpass 11,000 runs in test cricket.