NATION

Seeing Is Believing When It Comes To Hand Washing

“In the beginning, I was not sure how a simple handwashing activity could benefit my students’ health,” said Nawaqavesi Primary School head teacher Niraj Kumar. Thankfully, his doubts were laid
22 Apr 2017 11:56
Seeing Is Believing When It Comes To Hand Washing

“In the beginning, I was not sure how a simple handwashing activity could benefit my students’ health,” said Nawaqavesi Primary School head teacher Niraj Kumar.

Thankfully, his doubts were laid to rest after seeing the results of this effortless action.

In February 2016 Category 5 Tropical Cyclone Winston ripped through Fiji affecting 62 per cent of the population, including an estimated 400,000 people including 165,000 children. Many affected schools were not able to provide clean and safe water, proper toilets nor encourage good handwashing behaviour.

 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)

As part of the emergency response, UNICEF worked with partners including the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, Ministry of Health, Fijian Teachers Association, and Project Heaven to improve Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) in schools.

A programme which provided WASH supplies including soap, sanitary pads, toothbrush, water bottles, and hygiene promotion materials was quickly undertaken.

The programme encourages the routine practice of handwashing as a daily habit in all the schools.

The WASH in schools programme has three key interventions: provision of school WASH Kits, WASH 3 Star Training (including handwashing), and infrastructure support.

The programme uses the three star approach that encourages schools to progressively include handwashing.

It was developed to promote good hygiene behavior and practices at the school level that protects children from contracting any illness or disease from waste material.

Mr Kumar recalls the visit by UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts, Fijian Teachers Association, and Project Heaven to his school not long after Cyclone Winston.

The visit included presentations and discussions with the school and community about the benefits of handwashing.

“At the start of the programme I learned from the project facilitator that many of our students were infected by trachoma (bacterial eye infection).

“I also learned that it could be prevented with routine face and hand-washing with soap.

“So, I followed the advice and started the group hand and face washing programme in our school,” he said.

UNICEF Pacific representative, Sheldon Yett said “Handwashing in schools is a key water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) intervention for UNICEF across the globe and in the Pacific.”

“It is an approach that is cheap, effective and easy to implement. All we need is water, soap and a teacher’s commitment to make handwashing work in schools,” said Mr Yett.

 

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