November 11, 2020 5:30:24 pm
By Dr Yasmin Ali Haque
Almost twenty years in the past, a researcher from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine had known as the easy act of washing hands with cleaning soap a do-it-yourself vaccine! Valerie Curtis, a distinguished world hygiene advocate, who handed away this 12 months, was referring to the immense potential of hand washing to considerably cut back diarrheal deaths, the second largest killer of youngsters. Since then, hand washing with cleaning soap at important occasions is acknowledged as an essential behaviour to stop infections and save lives, particularly for susceptible youngsters and households.
Her phrases have acquired a new urgency within the final 9 months, throughout which COVID-19 has claimed over a million lives globally, whereas the seek for a vaccine to fight the virus is but to yield concrete outcomes. This means, hand washing with cleaning soap, that cuts the chance of viral transmission by 23-40 per cent based on world research, alongside with social-distancing and masks, will stay one of many first traces of protection in opposition to COVID-19 within the foreseeable future.
There is an rising momentum for this on a number of fronts.
A 2020 fast evaluation by WaterAid in India discovered that 67 per cent of respondents surveyed are in search of out details about when and the way to wash hands with cleaning soap.
PM Modi’s Jan Andolan or folks’s motion on COVID-19-appropriate behaviour launched on October 8, 2020 clearly emphasises the significance of practising the three preventive behaviours: carrying masks correctly; washing hands steadily; sustaining secure distance of six ft.
There is additionally a world push by UNICEF and WHO by means of a Call to Action for all international locations to create their very own nationwide hygiene street maps by means of the lately launched ‘Handwashing for All’ marketing campaign.
Some of those had been mirrored within the celebrations round Global Handwashing Day this 12 months by many political leaders, spiritual communities and celebrities throwing their weight behind hand hygiene campaigns and interventions.
How can we translate this momentum into behaviour change? How can we encourage everybody to make hand washing a common follow? How can we maintain it past this pandemic?
For this to occur, we have to see the next three in movement:
First, each individual should absolutely perceive and respect the significance of washing hands with cleaning soap — important for mitigating the unfold of COVID-19, but in addition widespread diarrheal illnesses like influenza, cholera and pneumonia.
The National Sample Survey 76th Round from 2019 revealed that 35.8 per cent of family members reported washing hands with cleaning soap earlier than consuming, whereas 74.1 per cent did so after defecation. The nation loses 320 youngsters below 5 years every single day because of diarrheal illnesses, most of that are preventable and, may be attributed to compromised entry to secure hygiene, in addition to sanitation and water provide.
We might want to maintain and construct on these positive factors, we have to spark a folks’s motion round hand washing, bringing collectively everybody together with younger folks, dad and mom, PRIs, spiritual leaders, policymakers, and the personal sector for a cultural shift for hand washing to be built-in into on a regular basis practices.
Children may be essential influencers and innovators on this endeavour. Take as an example, Riya — a teenager from Madhya Pradesh who realised her house lacked a hand washing station. With cash being tight, she determined to make certainly one of her personal! Riya put in a tippy-tap foot operated hand washing system — a two-bottle system, certainly one of which incorporates soapy water, one other plain water. After Riya made a video of her innovation, it unleashed a micro-revolution of kinds, and very quickly, 7,000 villages had erected their very own such stations. Such improvements add impetus in ushering the wanted optimistic change.
Second, folks will need to have entry to cleaning soap, water and hand washing services.
Hand hygiene is easy but powerfully-effective in prevention of infections. We know, nevertheless, that it is poorly practised in most components of the world, together with in India. Part of it is because of the lack of entry to water, cleaning soap and hand washing services, particularly in locations like colleges, healthcare services, and public areas, together with marketplaces and transport hubs. Almost 40 per cent of individuals globally both shouldn’t have entry to, or are unable to afford water and cleaning soap at house.
In India, as per NFHS-4, solely 18 per cent of rural households and 30 per cent of rural India have entry to piped water provide. Institutions like colleges and hospitals typically lack mandatory infrastructure to permit for satisfactory hand washing. Lack of practical bogs is one of many causes women drop out of faculty when managing menstruation turns into a problem.
The Government of India’s 100-day Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) marketing campaign launched October 2, 2020 to offer potable piped water to all colleges, well being facilities, Anganwadi facilities and different public establishments throughout the nation, is a welcome step on this route. Reaching the final mile and essentially the most susceptible households and youngsters with secure water stays vital.
Post the COVID-19 lockdowns, the return to full normalcy of important companies akin to immunization, major well being care and re-opening of colleges are contingent on following the important COVID-19 preventive behaviours. Provision of hand washing services is indispensable to this effort. Only when these are adequately in place can the belief be restored, and fears allayed permitting youngsters, dad and mom to entry these important companies.
Finally, modern options are wanted to deal with hand washing in resource-poor settings.
We will should be cognizant to the precise and particular challenges of various communities and geographical areas. This contains designing acceptable eco-friendly and low-flow hand washing station fashions for areas which face water shortage. Hand washing can and ought to be made aspirational, absolutely leveraging the continued emphasis on hygiene and cleanliness within the Swachh Bharat Mission Phase Two and the JJM, on attaining common entry to secure consuming water.
COVID-19 has pushed house the significance of hand washing with cleaning soap. Even after we’re capable of entry the vaccine, it will stay essential to mitigate the antagonistic affect of any future outbreaks.
It additionally presents to us with a once-in-a lifetime alternative to make sure common entry at hand hygiene and to make it a a part of our day by day lives.
It’s as much as every certainly one of us to behave and undertake this straightforward behaviour and to avoid wasting lives right now and sooner or later!
(The author is a consultant at UNICEF India)
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and keep up to date with the most recent headlines
© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd