A father teaches his daughter how to wash hands properly sing a tippy tap in Kuresoi, Nakuru County.

Working with communities to position handwashing for disease prevention

published on Friday 10th of April 2020 06:27:45 AM

Washing hands with soap is a simple yet effective way to prevent diseases.  It is recommended that family members wash hands with soap and running water at critical times including after visiting the toilet, after changing diapers, before food preparation and before eating.

But not everyone washes their hands due to various barriers. For instance, families may not have access to enough water or soap, the practices is not reinforced as a norm, especially among younger children.

USAID’s Afya Uzazi Program promotes handwashing as part of a package of water, health and sanitation (WASH)interventions to protect the health of households.

Working with the community health strategy teams at the counties, Afya Uzazi has trained community volunteers, local elders and other trusted champions to promote handwashing alongside other healthy behaviours that include  treatment of drinking water, use latrines and keeping their compounds clean.

One of the most successful approaches to encouraging handwashing is community led total sanitation (CLTS) which uses powerful motivators to encourage people to build latrines and handwashing stations, including the easy-to-make tippy tap.

Another strategy is the population, health and environment (PHE) intervention that empowers communities to integrate health promotion in environmental conservation activities.

“ Children ever used to wash hands  after visiting the toilet, but after making a tippy tap they always do and even encourage visitors to,” says Mary Sang, a mother of three in Kuresoi sub-county, Nakuru County.

Mary’s case is replicated in thousands of homes across Baringo and Nakuru counties where the two approaches have been used.

At health facilities in the two counties, Afya Uzazi and county teams have helped to position handwashing as a key infection prevention and control measure.

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