Leadership, Action and Champions are essential for improving Handwashing Practices
COVID-19 and Hand Hygiene Programme
26th October 2021: Save the Children, India and People to People Health Foundation (PPHF), with support from Unilever, convened a Dissemination Workshop – ‘COVID-19 and Hand Hygiene Program’ from 2.30 pm to 5 pm on 26th October 2021. The purpose of the workshop was to share learnings from the HUL-backed programme called Prevention of Novel Corona Virus Disease (COVID-19) outbreak In India – Essential Health and Hygiene Interventions. The programme focused on hand-hygiene behavior through the involvement of community health workers like Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHA) and Anganwadi Workers (AWW), school teachers, students and mothers. Other community members also came together to act as ‘Agents of Change’ for this programme.
The workshop was represented by a combination of high-level speakers and community level champions to help us understand the challenges and opportunities for Hand Hygiene programmes in the context of COVID-19 in India.
The Essential Health and Hygiene Interventions programme was designed and implemented in four states of India (West Bengal, Odisha, Bihar and Maharashtra) to support the prevention of COVID-19 and improve handwashing practices. The programme directly reached 11,68, 648 and trained 12,474 ASHA/AWW/school teachers.
The discussions focused on highlighting the need to resurface and prioritise HWWS (full form?) as a health priority. Overall, the programme contributed to improving the hand hygiene practices in the community, building personnel capacity, and creating community awareness on HWWS. We also supported families with more than 10 lakh soaps.
Around 640 under-five children in India die every day (or over 8 lakh die every year) due to Pneumonia and Diarrhea, which are preventable diseases. Marginalised children are the most vulnerable. COVID-19 has further added to the agony.
Maintaining hand hygiene is a simple, an effective and an affordable solution for preventing spread of these and several other infectious diseases. Yet, strikingly, only 25.3 per cent rural and 56 per cent urban households in India wash hands with soap or detergent before every meal; shockingly, 15 per cent rural and 10 per cent urban population do NOT wash their hands after defecation (National Sample Survey 2019 report).
The use of Rapid Emergency Training Solution (RETS) and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) platforms to engage with communities in hotspot districts on how to respond to the COVID-19 crisis supported the programme. A combination of technology platforms and a set of tools with demonstration and interpersonal communications enabled enhancing the levels of practices related to HWWS.
The engagement of frontline health workers (ASHAs and AWWs), community volunteers, school teachers and other village/slum agents of change change to deliver the messages at the household level and through group meetings while maintaining COVID-19 protocols were effective.
Marginalised families and their children are the most vulnerable to infectious diseases including COVID-19. Maintaining hand hygiene is a simple, an effective and an affordable solution for preventing spread of these and several other infectious diseases. Yet, strikingly, only 25.3 per cent rural and 56 per cent urban households in India wash hands with soap or detergent before every meal; shockingly, 15 per cent rural and 10 per cent urban population do NOT wash their hands after defecation (National Sample Survey 2019 report).
There is a need to collaboratively address community level challenges like maintaining the environment for HWWS within the family as well as within the community at large. The modification of programme implementation strategies as per the situation greatly supported in reaching people for improved HWWS practices. With the outbreak of COVID-19, and the restrictions in place to limit the spread, the programme adhered to prevention measures while conducting trainings across the four states.
With over 100 gathering for the workshop, the event acknowledged participation from varied sectors.
Key takeaways by each of the Eloquent speakers were:
Sudarshan, CEO, Save the Children India, shares: “
“This partnership is yet another testimonial to what wonders collective action can do. It is also evidence of how to unlock the inherent and latent capacities of communities we are engaged with. Save the Children, India in general, and I, in particular, consider it our privilege and honor to be part of this partnership, which has catalyzed a movement at the grassroots, raising over a million agents of change, and through them ensuring a healthy living and a bright future for every last-child, thereby. Initiatives such as these reaffirm the commitment of Save the Children, India by being a part of the solution through its affirmative action and active participation.
Our deepest gratitude to all the stakeholders, including our partners, child champions, ASHA, ICDS workers, and community members for making this transformation possible.”
The biggest take home for us has been “Yes We Can”!
Dr. Laxmikant Palo, CEO, People to People Health Foundation, “COVID has reinforced the importance of handwashing, creating and maintaining an enabling environment is critical for HWWS practices. It is especially important to appreciate and recognize community champions, mothers and children showing commitment towards HWWS.”
Building greater collaboration with the stakeholders working on HW is essential to achieve the Goal.
About Save the Children
Save the Children is India’s leading independent child rights’ NGO, which has a footprint in 18 states of the country. Beginning its journey in 2008 in India, and registered as ‘Bal Raksha Bharat’, we have changed the lives of more than 11 million (1.1 crore) children.
We firmly believe that every child deserves the best chance for a bright future, which is why, we are fiercely committed to ensure that children not only survive, but thrive.
In India and across the world in 120 countries, Save the Children works on-ground – every day and especially, in times of crisis. Our pioneering programs address children’s unique needs; giving them a healthy start, an opportunity to learn as well as protection from harm. When crisis strikes, we are always among the first to respond and the last to leave. We are the outspoken champions for children, ensuring that their voices are heard and their issues are given top priority.
People-to-People Health Foundation (PPHF)- www.pphf.in, formerly known as Project HOPE India, a global health non -profit organization, works towards transforming lives for improved health and wellbeing through locally- driven solutions. It has worked in about 12 states of India to build the skills of health care providers, strengthen management capacity, help create sustainable systems to improve access to quality health services. PPHF work closely with communities and key actors on sustainable solutions for public health challenges:1) Non-Communicable Diseases;2) Women, Adolescent and Child health;3) Nutrition; 4) Infectious diseases and; 5) Environmental Health. We focus on building public health capacity and community actions for better health outcomes. We work collaboratively with stakeholders, leveraging partnerships and influencing policies and practices. Drawing on our experiences and recognizing the unique needs of each region in India, PPHF works in partnership with key stakeholders to design and deliver targeted responses. All of our programs integrate innovative, evidence-based interventions in three key areas: 1) Building the skills of health care workers and the capacity of the local health care system; 2)Improving access to quality services; and 3) Establishing and expanding community support systems.