LIFEBUOY CULTIVATES GOOD HANDWASHING HABITS AMONG CHILDREN
OCT 4, 2019 @ 5.53PM
Lifebuoy reaffirms its support for the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals through continued commitment to drive positive behavioural change around hand hygiene habits amongst children.
As of 2019, their School of 5 Handwashing Programme has successfully reached 386,000 primary school students in nine states across Malaysia and educated them on good handwashing techniques and habits. Lifebuoy aims to reach more than 500,000 children by the year 2020.
Good hand hygiene has been universally recognised as the smartest and most cost-effective means of infection control. Washing the hands using the correct techniques and with anti-bacterial soap will reduce the chances of infection by communicable diseases such as pneumonia and Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD).
An infected person can spread these contagious diseases by sneezing or coughing onto their hands and not washing them afterwards, thereby allowing the germs to spread through direct contact with the infected person’s hands or through surfaces he or she has touched. In fact, up to 80% of the most common infectious diseases are spread through unclean hands.
There have been several infectious diseases outbreaks over the last few decades such as the Nipah virus in Malaysia in 1998; SARS in 2003; H1N1 in 2009; and the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in 2012. All these diseases share a single common factor that has caused their spread – lack of hand hygiene.
Facilitating behavioural change in children
Lifebuoy has been running their School of 5 Handwashing Programme since 2015. This programme is designed to facilitate behavioural change in children in order to encourage them to adopt proper hand washing habits using soap and reciprocate the message to their family members.
After learning how to wash their hands properly and when to wash them, students were required to complete a 21 Day Hand Hygiene Journal/Activity Book to document their daily handwashing routine. The idea behind the duration of the journal is to make handwashing a permanent habit which requires consistent repetition for at least 21 days. The programme also involved a Hand Hygiene Pledge by both students and teachers and a ‘glow germ’ demonstration in which the participants sprinkle glitter on to their hands before washing to indicate that washing with water alone is insufficient for good hand hygiene.
Seven steps of handwashing
For this year’s GHD, Lifebuoy collaborated with Tesco Malaysia to visit SK Seri Setia and teach the students there the seven steps of handwashing through the principles of School of 5, namely washing thoroughly before breakfast, lunch, and dinner, after visiting the toilet and during the daily bath. Over 200 students and teachers participated in this educational session.
“Lifebuoy has built the largest, longest-running hand washing programme in the world, reaching more than 378 million people across 28 countries. We aim to help more than a billion people to improve their health and hygiene through the simple yet effective act of handwashing with soap. Since we started our School of 5 programme four years ago, we have recorded an improvement in handwashing habits among children. More of them are now using soap to wash their hands, especially after using the toilet and before eating. Our goal is to educate at least 500,000 children in all 13 states,” said Vincent Chong, Beauty, Personal Care & Home Care Director, Unilever Malaysia.
“As the theme for this year’s Global Handwashing Day focuses on the link between handwashing and food, we at Lifebuoy would like to remind all to always wash your hands thoroughly, using the seven steps, before and after meals regardless of whether you are eating at home, at school or at work. We celebrate GHD every year to remind ourselves of the importance of handwashing but having clean hands should be a standard practice for all of us every day,” he added.
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