Handwashing = Disease Prevention

Thursday, November 24, 2016

In Ratanpur, Bihar, more than 80 children were taught how to wash their hands properly. This included how necessary it is to do so before eating their food and after using the toilet. What started as a class with a much smaller number of children is quickly expanding.

According to UNICEF, the benefits of teaching children handwashing, though it seems small, brings many large-scale benefits: 

  1. Washing hands with soap at critical times—after using the toilet, before eating and preparing food—reduces the incidence of diarrhoea. In studies that compared schools where this was taught versus schools where it was not taught, the difference was 30% fewer cases of diarrhoea.
  2. Handwashing with soap can reduce the incidence of acute respiratory infections (ARIs) by more than 20 per cent.
  3. Handwashing promotion in schools can play a role in reducing the number of days children miss school. Studies reveal that promotion and distribution of soap in primary schools result in more than 50 per cent fewer days of absence among students compared to schools without such an intervention.
  4. Handwashing with soap is one of the most cost-effective interventions to prevent diarrhoea-related deaths and disease.
  5. Health costs due to hygiene-related diseases can be reduced by good hygiene habits such as handwashing with soap.

Teaching handwashing to children is also valuable in the sense that they bring this habit home to their family households and as such, the benefits spread.

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