Global Handwashing Day Marked in Kenya

PS/Kenya’s Child Survival Programme under the Maternal, Neonatal and Child Health (MNCH) Department partnered with the Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation and Unilever to launch a programme, which did not only see children take part in the global handwashing day, but also made handwashing a part of their lifestyle.

During the global handwashing celebration on 15th October 2012, in Likoni Primary School, Coast Province, hundreds of children from private and public schools took part in the behaviour changing event. Over 10,000 children in the country took part in the annual event, which saw children simultaneously wash their hands, and embarked on a 21-day project where children will continuously wash hands during five vital times.

HandwashingDubbed the ‘School of 5’ project, the Child Survival Programme and other partners aim to ensure pupils between Standard Three and Standard Six in 71 schools in Likoni District in wash their hands on five occasions: Before breakfast, before lunch, before dinner, after visiting the toilet and during bath time.

“Research has shown that when a human being repeats certain behaviour for 21 days, the behaviour becomes a habit. We are applying the same principle in handwashing; and we know that when a child learns this behaviour, it will stick with him/her forever,” noted Wanjiru Mathenge, PS/Kenya’s Child Survival Programme Manager.

 During the School of Five Project period, pupils will be expected to say the ‘School of 5’ pledge while in assembly and do an activity book while going through the process.

 At the function in Likoni, pupils repeated the pledge in English and Kiswahili before presenting songs and poems about the importance of hand washing. The chief guest was the Provincial Director of Public Health and Sanitation Dr Anisa Omar who noted that while 97% of households have soap, handwashing is not a priority.

“Changing behaviour around handwashing could enable us meet our MDG goal on keeping children alive and using children in this initiative is best because children are good change agents,” she added.

The Likoni DMOH Dr Salma noted that 10,236 children in the area died from diarrhoea and other related illnesses while another 7,742 children died from respiratory illnesses; half of the children affected were under 5 years of age. She urged parents to work with their children in ensuring that they wash hands to avoid any diseases.

The area District Officer Moses Ouma called on the community to maintain high standards of hygiene by washing their hands and keeping the environment clean.

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