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Global Handwashing Day: Five Easy Ways To Promote Handwashing Habit In Children

Global Handwashing Day: Experts suggest five easy ways to inculcate handwashing, a crucial habit among children, and ensure that children follow it especially now as schools reopen in various parts of the country

Global Handwashing Day Five Easy Ways To Promote Handwashing Habit In Children
Highlights
  • Global Handwashing Day calls for coordinated action towards hand hygiene
  • WHO recommends washing hands with soap for at least 20 seconds
  • Most childhood diseases are preventable by a thorough hand wash: Dr Shruti

New Delhi: In May 2020, in the early days of the Coronavirus pandemic in India, BBC Media Action, BBC’s international development charity, launched ‘Superhero Soap’, a 60-second animation film on social media platforms to promote handwashing, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The role of handwashing has accentuated in the recent past as it is one of the crucial defences against Novel Coronavirus. The film builds on the insight that your hand is the carrier of coronavirus and becomes the virus itself. Soap is positioned as the saviour. In the film, the superhero soap says, ‘You give me 20 seconds and I will give you freedom from this virus’ and also demonstrates the right way to wash hands. The soap signs off with a crucial message, ‘See you many times, every day’, hinting at washing hands regularly during the day.

Also Read: Hand Hygiene: A Window To Your Overall Health. Five Diseases India Can Stamp Out By Focusing On Handwashing

Talking to NDTV about the need to promote handwashing and the film, Radharani Mitra, Global Creative Advisor at BBC Media Action, said,

In these extraordinary times, our behaviour is our best defence. We’ve used a classic comic book style to make this highly visual film that can appeal to people of all ages and backgrounds. Even if you watch the film on mute, you will understand what the film has to say.

Ms Mitra believes that handwashing is a habit therefore should be inculcated from childhood. She further added,

We have found time and again that particularly in urban India, across all socio-economic classes, children can often be the drivers of changing behaviour amongst adults. We wanted children to enjoy the film and understand why handwashing is critical in the current times which is why we resorted to animation.

Also Read: A Lucknow Based Madrasa Has Benefits Of Handwashing In Its Curriculum

Adding to this, Dr Shruti Tandan-Pardasani, Consultant Critical Care, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, is of the opinion that hand hygiene should be taught once a child starts to feed himself/herself. Dr Shruti Tandan-Pardasani said,

Most childhood diseases ranging from respiratory to gastrointestinal illnesses are totally preventable by a thorough hand wash. It is the cheapest and easiest vaccination that we can give ourselves so why not start inculcating early in life. Use of liquid soap and water is preferable over alcohol based sanitisation which may often be hurried and hence incomplete and ineffective.

But how can we inculcate handwashing habits among children and encourage them to follow it regularly? On Global Handwashing Day celebrated each year on October 15, NDTV spoke to experts who shared some creative ideas to make handwashing effective and fun activity for children.

We need to remember that when we talk about children, we are talking about different age groups. We need to design handwashing messages differently for children in different age groups, explained Arundati Muralidharan, Manager, Policy at WaterAid India.

Also Read: Fighting COVID-19 With Hand Hygiene: Lack Of Water And Handwashing Infrastructure Pose Challenge For The Poor

Sing A Song Or Recite A Rhyme

Ms Muralidharan added that young children (2-6 years of age) don’t necessarily understand that handwashing will protect them from germs. To promote handwashing with soap, the right technique and duration, we need to make the activity engaging and fun for them.

Washing hands for at least 20 seconds is as crucial as handwashing with soap. For the same, experts recommend singing a song or a rhyme. Parents and teachers can tell children that the process of washing hands will be complete only when the song is finished.

Earlier in March, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) had initiated the Safe Hands Challenge to promote handwashing and gathered support from people of all walks of life, ‘sing a song’ got a mention. American performer Billy Porter asked his viewers, especially children to sing ‘happy birthday’ song twice while rubbing and washing hands.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: Experts Guide On “How To Wash Hands Properly” And Why It Is So Crucial

Adopt Novel Soap Technology

Gone are the days when we would have a simple bar soap for all purposes. Now, for children, there are special soaps that come in different shapes, sizes, colours and are even inspired by cartoons and animals. Providing children soap based on their favorite cartoon character or colour can attract them to handwashing. Elaborating on the same, Abhishek Sharma, Senior Research Manager, Sambodhi Research & Communications, said,

Colorful and translucent soaps with toys embedded at the centre have been clinical tested to improve handwashing practice among children by making it fun and goal-oriented. These soaps are usually smaller in size than normal bars. Washing hands while the toy is visible, incentivises children to wash their hands at regular intervals.

Also Read: NITI Aayog Lauds This Jharkhand School For Its Cleanliness And Sanitation Initiatives

Make A Chart To Track Their Progress And Support Them

At home, parents can hang a sticker chart in the bathroom and give away a gold star or smiley face each time children wash their hands, suggests Dr Fazal Nabi, Director, Department of Pediatrics, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre in Mumbai. Parents can also put headers like before meal, after meal, after using a toilet to remind children to wash their hands at crucial intervals.

I have young children at home and handwashing can be challenging for them. Teaching and asking children to wash hands is one thing, providing them support in the form of reminding them to wash hands, assisting them, ensuring the right handwashing facilities for them is another. Make sure children have access to child-friendly handwashing facilities for example, wash basin. If the eash basin is at a great height, children won’t be able to access it so ensure there is a stool for them on which they can comfortably stand and wash their hands, said Ms Muralidharan.

Also Read: Free India From Unsafe Sanitation Practices: Adopt These 5 WASH Practices In Schools For Long-Term Solution

Educate With Live Demonstration

Handwashing will remain ineffective if it is done without soap but how do you explain the role of soap to children? Dr Fazal Nabi, Director, Department of Pediatrics, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre in Mumbai suggests giving demonstration on why and how to wash hands.

Older children who are in primary school have a better understanding of handwashing. You need to tell them about the importance of handwashing and the role of germs in diseases. Make them understand the concept of fighting germs in a fun way, explained Ms Muralidharan.

For example, earlier in March, Amanda Lorenzo, an elementary teacher from Miami-Dade County Public School, Florida, United States, conducted an experiment with her school children to show how germs run away from the soap.

For the experiment, Ms Lorenzo used pepper as germs, water and soap. Ms Lorenzo shared a video on her Instagram where she can be heard asking one of the kids to dip her finger into the ‘virus’ which is essentially a bowl of water filled with black pepper. The virus doesn’t move. Then Ms Lorenzo asks the student to dip the finger in soap water and then touch the virus. Within a second the virus moved away from the soap.

The small experiment taught children about the need to wash hands with soap.


Also Read: Global Handwashing Day: Low-Cost ‘Social’ Robot Teaches Kerala Children Hygiene Lessons

Practice What You Preach

Children often try to copy adults hence Dr Nabi believes emulation is the best way to teach a kid. Dr Nabi said,

If everyone at home washes hands frequently, a kid is bound to learn and practice the same.

While signing off, Ms Muralidharan also noted that teenagers are exposed to science at school so they have knowledge. She added,

You cannot give them tasks as ‘sing a song’ or play handwashing games like you do it with a 5-year-old. Here, you can get ask them to design and run a campaign on handwashing and see how they motivate their peers to adopt the practice.

Also Read: Students From A Delhi School Are Strengthening Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) Concepts. Here’s All That They Are Doing

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.  

World

24,00,62,413Cases
20,17,73,183Active
3,33,99,961Recovered
48,89,269Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,00,62,413 and 48,89,269 have died; 20,17,73,183 are active cases and 3,33,99,961 have recovered as on October 16, 2021 at 4:08 am.

India

3,40,53,573 15,981Cases
2,01,6322,046Active
3,33,99,961 17,861Recovered
4,51,980 166Deaths
In India, there are 3,40,53,573 confirmed cases including 4,51,980 deaths. The number of active cases is 2,01,632 and 3,33,99,961 have recovered as on October 16, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,88,429 2,149

33,379 222

64,15,316 1,898

1,39,734 29

Kerala

48,38,811 8,867

95,349 1,072

47,16,728 9,872

26,734 67

Karnataka

29,82,869 470

9,700 93

29,35,238 368

37,931 9

Tamil Nadu

26,84,641 1,245

15,238 213

26,33,534 1,442

35,869 16

Andhra Pradesh

20,59,708 586

6,453 135

20,38,960 712

14,295 9

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,014 6

133 2

16,86,984 8

22,897

West Bengal

15,79,463 451

7,513 63

15,52,997 506

18,953 8

Delhi

14,39,337 26

327 10

14,13,921 36

25,089

Odisha

10,34,276 467

4,817 73

10,21,180 535

8,279 5

Chhattisgarh

10,05,624 10

197 6

9,91,857 16

13,570

Rajasthan

9,54,383 1

40 2

9,45,389 3

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,258 14

212 3

8,15,960 17

10,086

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,675 6

106 5

7,82,046 11

10,523

Haryana

7,71,049 14

116 11

7,60,884 3

10,049

Bihar

7,26,021 5

46 4

7,16,314 1

9,661

Telangana

6,68,722 104

4,056 115

6,60,730 218

3,936 1

Assam

6,05,944 97

3,458 188

5,96,547 284

5,939 1

Punjab

6,01,992 21

228 6

5,85,224 25

16,540 2

Jharkhand

3,48,415 9

130 0

3,43,150 9

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,739 10

179 4

3,36,163 6

7,397

Jammu And Kashmir

3,30,885 51

895 40

3,25,564 91

4,426

Himachal Pradesh

2,21,203 90

1,361 26

2,16,125 114

3,717 2

Goa

1,77,410 54

648 31

1,73,423 81

3,339 4

Puducherry

1,27,296 37

611 36

1,24,836 73

1,849

Manipur

1,22,545 113

1,444 0

1,19,208 109

1,893 4

Mizoram

1,11,651 932

13,316 285

97,955 1,211

380 6

Tripura

84,299 4

102 8

83,381 12

816

Meghalaya

82,815 81

893 1

80,490 79

1,432 1

Chandigarh

65,297 2

30 2

64,447 4

820

Arunachal Pradesh

54,964 6

183 19

54,501 25

280

Sikkim

31,739 17

189 35

31,159 51

391 1

Nagaland

31,547 31

228 2

30,645 32

674 1

Ladakh

20,871 4

42 2

20,621 6

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,675

3 0

10,668

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

1 1

10,313 1

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,641 1

9 1

7,503 2

129

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