“Proper hand washing is the most effective intervention to reduce health hazards.”
In Nepal, survey shows that only 12%of total people wash their hands with soap and water before eating and 50% people don’t wash hands with soap even after going to toilet. This results to spreading of hundreds of water-borne diseases such as diarrhea making the disease responsible for yearly death toll of over 8000 children under the age of five.
Environment Camps for Conservation Awareness (ECCA) has long since been working on implementing sustainable behavioral change in the sector of WASH especially in the remote areas of Nepal. Along with constructing sanitation corners and HandWashing stations, it has regularly been conducting programmes and workshops on hygiene and sanitation. Every year on the occasion of Global Handwashing Day (15th of October) ECCA organizes hand washing programmes in schools as a reminder for students to understand the essence of hand washing with soap. This year we planned for something different. This year we aimed to reach a larger range of audience with a strategic method of entertainment and simultaneous information sharing. As there is a saying, “When there is a will there is a way”, we were able to develop a plan within a limited time. Along with conducting handwashing sessions among 250 participating students in Jaycees Secondary School, Bhaktapur and St.Paul Higher Secondary School, Lalitpur, we then chose to reach out to the public through a public awareness programme in Mangalbazaar, Lalitpur.
Initally attracting the people with a flash mob, we interacted with the public on the subject of WASH followed by a demonstration of handwashing steps. It was important to let people know and to remind that they could avoid diseases like cholera, ARIs, SARS, pandemic flu, malnutrition, TE, AIDS infections and even reduce neonatal mortality just with a simple act of washing hands with water and soap before handling food and after going to toilet. It was equally important to encourage the onlookers to pass on their knowledge and an example to people around them. Not only hand washing with soap but we also informed interested people regarding WATASOL, a chlorine containing water disinfectant liquid.
Thus the conclusion of the whole day was one connected with the slogan of the year- “Raise a hand for hygiene”. This was certainly a day to be remembered and a very important to be marked because research shows that celebrating Global HandWashing Day has improved the state of handwashing in Nepal. The priority of ECCA in improving school and public health will continue in the days to come with more youth involvement.