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Introducing hand washing with soap programmes in all nations as the most cost effective way to prevent child deaths could contribute to Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 4 towards reducing child mortality, reports The Hindu.

Bollywood actor Kajol Devgn made this appeal to policymakers across the globe at every event related to the United Nations General Assembly in New York from September 23 to 25. She is the U.N.’s hand-washing ambassador and advocate of the ‘Help a Child Reach 5’ campaign.

The United Nations General Assembly had brought together world leaders and focussed on the MDGs. Policymakers had an opportunity to look at how hand-washing with soap can help achieve MDG 4 target’s deadline of 2015. It is estimated that more than six lakh children below five years die in India every year due to unhygienic habits and surroundings.

“I would like to urge governments and the United Nations policymakers to recognise that hand-washing with soap is the most cost-effective intervention to reduce child mortality. I believe that the private sector has a critical role to play in achieving our development goals and save the lives of children worldwide,” Ms. Devgn said.

Last month, the actor made an attempt to keep at bay preventable diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia by pledging her support to the ‘Help a Child reach 5’ campaign. The campaign is advocating hand-washing habits on a war-footing in Thesgora village in Madhya Pradesh, which has one of the highest rates of diarrhoea cases in the country.

Every day, during the summer and monsoon seasons, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in the Capital receives five to 10 patients suffering from diarrhoea. “Our country’s population has risen but there is a lack of awareness of basic hygiene like washing hands before eating and after using the washroom even in Delhi. Even nurses need to wash their hands frequently to avoid the transmission of all kinds of infections, especially pneumonia,” said Atul Gogia, a consultant at the hospital.