Hand Washing with Soap Program
GHEI’s Hand Washing with Soap program promotes proper hand washing with soap among school children at three critical times: after using the toilet, before eating, and before preparing food. This practice has been shown to be an effective and inexpensive way to prevent communicable diseases like diarrhea and acute respiratory infections. Children suffer disproportionately from these diseases, and preventing them can lead to healthier children who are able to spend more time in school.
We work at eight local schools where we have provided soap and installed polytanks ensuring that students always have access to clean, running water which they can use to wash their hands. We meet monthly with student representatives from each of our eight participating schools, and conduct quarterly surprise visits to each of our schools to monitor supplies and practices.
For Global Handwashing Day each October, GHEI conducts educational outreaches at all eight of our participating schools. During these outreaches, community health workers and GHEI staff work together to lead the students GHEI’s hand washing song, hand washing demonstrations, and education on the importance of hand washing with soap and its critical times.
This program has improved health and increased knowledge in our communities. Since the program’s start in 2010, diarrhea in young children has decreased by 30%. Further, when GHEI last conducted our Annual Knowledge Survey, interviewing students from all participating schools, we found improvements in student knowledge of the critical times for HWWS and the majority of students mentioned an awareness of the value of hand washing in preventing illness.