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Two million primary school going children enrolled in hygiene program

By Moses Cheruiyot

In the past five years, over two million primary school going children have undertaken the Dettol sponsored hand-washing hygiene program countrywide.

The announcement was made during the commemoration of the 11th Global Handwashing Day held at Railway Training Institute School in Nairobi County last month.

The program, which was launched five years ago to commemorate this day is geared towards reducing sanitation-related ailments among school-going children across the country.

Celebrated globally, on October 15th every year, the handwashing day promotes the vital importance of proper hand washing with soap in the prevention of diseases.

Speaking during the celebrations, RB Africa Expansion Director Health, Dele Adeyole said, “This year’s theme is “Clean Hands for All”, and aims at fostering inclusivity for all when addressing handwashing disparities.”

“The theme is anchored on Sustainable Development Goal 3 which reflects on Good Health and Well Being, SDG 6 on Clean Water and Sanitation and SDG 10 on Reducing Inequalities,” he explained.

According to the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF, hand washing with soap, even before preparing food, is rarely practiced in many developing countries – leading to the rapid spread of deadly bacteria, diarrhea and pneumonia in young children.

Every year, preventable diseases like diarrhoea and pneumonia claim the lives of 2.8 million children across the globe before they reach the age of five. The first 28 days of a child’s life are the most critical.

In Kenya, more than 34,000 newborn babies die each year within their first month of life – a figure that translates to more than 90 deaths per day. A 2017 study by the International Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health reveals that diarrhea is the fourth most common illness seen in health facilities in Kenya and accounts for one in five of all hospital admissions.

It is the fourth overall most common cause of death among children under five years of age in Kenya, with a case fatality of up to 21%.

The study further notes that hygiene interventions including hygiene education and promotion of hand washing can reduce diarrhea cases in Kenya by up to 45 per cent.

On his part, the Nairobi County, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Coordinator, Erick Inda called upon private sector players and county governments across the country to scale up efforts in creating continued awareness on sustainable personal hygiene and its significance in improving educational outcomes in schools.

“This year’s theme “Clean Hands for All” is so timely for all of us to highlight the importance of hand-washing for particular segments of our society, including childcare workers, health professionals and those without consistent access to clean water.”

In Kenya, Dettol has reached over 2 million mothers in both the government and private health sector, teaching them these basic hygiene habits and sampling soap to them. Additionally, Dettol has over the years focused its investment in school hygiene programs, targeting children in both urban and rural areas.

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