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India – USAID initiative on diarrhea prevention

Slum kids taught basics of hygiene

VARANASI: For Shubham, a Class VI student of the city, becoming a part of the ‘Saathi Bachpan Ke‘ programme– the country’s first national alliance on diarrhoea prevention and management that started in one of the slums near DDU district hospital in Pandeypur area on Monday– was an eye-opener, making him understand the significance of personal hygiene and sanitation.

While the young student of UP Inter College was already washing his hands with soap after using the toilet, the programme taught a number of slum children like him the correct way to clean hands with soap that could reduce the risk of diarrhoea diseases by almost 50 per cent.

“Washing hands with soap is not new but knowing the correct way of using soap and cleaning hands is a great experience,” said Shubham, who was joined by a number of slum children, including girls, to show the right way of going about it. “Proper hand washing requires soap and only a small amount of water and one should cover wet hands with soap, scrub all the surfaces and rinse well with running water. The hand parts, including palms, back and especially area under fingernails must be thoroughly cleaned,” added the young lad like a trained student.

It may be mentioned here that ‘Saathi Bachpan Ke‘ alliance is a special project funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Market-based Partnerships for Health (MBPH). The project focuses on simple and effective solutions like hand washing with soap, use of oral rehydration therapy (ORT) and purification of drinking water to reduce diarrhoea deaths in children.

“Till now, I was only washing my hands with soaps after using the toilet but now I have realised that hands should be washed properly before handling food, even during cooking and eating,” said Ramjani, who worked as a maid-servant. “Unfortunately, most of us do not use soap regularly at home and invite diseases that take a heavy toll on life and money,” she added.

Heavy presence of slum-dwellers, including women and children, in the area was also enough to ensure encouraging response to efforts. Officials from the health department were also present.

“We are trying to bring together diverse organisations, community health service providers and NGOs to ensure healthier children,” said Vani Khurana, one of the spokesperson of MBPH. “The project started in UP in July this year and has already covered rural and urban areas of Lucknow and Kanpur. We would like to spread it further while creating mass awareness on clean water, improved sanitation and better hygiene,” she concluded.

June 28, 2010 – Times of India

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