Preventing Diarrhoea Through Hand-Washing


Diarrhea disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old, and is responsible for killing about 525,000 children every year. Save the Children International and Dettol believes these deaths can be prevented through simple act of hand washing with soap. Martins Ifijeh writes

Diarrhoea is defined as the passage of three or more loose or liquid stools per day (or more frequent passage than is normal for the individual). It is usually a symptom of an infection in the intestinal tract, which can be caused by a variety of bacterial, viral and parasitic organisms. Infection is spread through contaminated food or drinking water, or from person-to-person as a result of poor hygiene.

In order to prevent such diseases in our society, WHO has highlighted certain points that could help, which includes safe drinking water, use of improved sanitation and proper hand washing with soap can reduce disease risk.

However, in order to further propagate this awareness, well-meaning brands have thought it wise to come up with ideas to do this, especially on Global Hand Washing Day. Reckitt Benckiser makers of Dettol, and Save The Children International are not left out in this.

Recently, Dettol marked the 2017 Global Hand Washing Day with over 700 primary school children who were taught proper hand washing and hygiene in a fun and engaging way through an entertaining dance drama and hand washing song. Furthermore, a donation of 12 hand washing sites was presented to Morocco Military Primary School, Yaba, an act which Dettol carries out annually to various schools in Nigeria.

Prior to this main event, the brand had initiated a nationwide campaign themed ‘Letter For Life’ which was a unique way to get children interested in washing their hands, as well as get them to spread the message of hand-washing from one child to another. The team had gone round to several primary schools in Nigeria, taught them proper hand washing habits, and in turn the children wrote hygiene letters which were then distributed to other children alongside with soaps.

On its part, Save The Children International came up with an initiative same weekend to mark the Global Hand Washing Day. The event had 600 school children wash their hands simultaneously in order to prevent diarrhoea.

Speaking on behalf of RB Dettol, the Marketing Director, RB West Africa, Aliza Leferink pointed out, “At RB (Reckitt Benckiser), our global vision is to provide the world with innovative solutions and products for healthier lives and happier homes. Dettol has been the trusted champion for good health and hygiene for over 50 years in Nigeria, and we believe that it’s important to inculcate good habits such as proper hand washing at an early age. A simple act of washing your hands with soap can prevent illness and arrest diarrhea-related deaths. We feel so proud to be supporting Save The Children International to prevent infections and diseases. So today we are going to be breaking a record by witnessing 600 children wash their hands simultaneously.”

In his message, Chief of Party, Stop Diarrhoea Initiative, Dr. David Atamewalen, urged the 600 children that learnt the hand washing skill to spread the message to their friends at home and everywhere. “Continue to tell everyone that hand washing with soap promotes good health and good health is essential for a brighter future.” He admonished the “children to protect themselves by washing their hands regularly with soap which is the only way to avoid getting sick and free from germs and diseases. To become great leaders in the future, you have to inculcate the habit of proper hand washing with soap,” he enthused.

“Hand washing with soap and clean water has proved to be helpful in so many ways especially amongst children. It helps in preventing the children from being sick and spreading germs. According to ThoughtCo. Online, there are an estimated 1,500 bacteria per square centimetre of skin on your hand. One of the best ways to prevent bacteria-related illnesses and other infectious diseases is to wash your hands with soap and water, after which the hands are dried thoroughly with a clean towel or air dryer. While almost everyone has heard this message, studies have shown that people still are not washing their hands.”

He said aside from Diarrhoea, lack of proper hand wash can lead to certain diseases such as cold and flu, Hepatitis A, Gastroenteritis, Shigellosis, Giardiasis, food poisoning, hand-foot-mouth disease, worm infestation, body fluid illnesses, amongst others.

To prevent all of these, Global Hand Washing days are celebrated annually, and many brands and groups are keying into this day to create events where awareness on proper hygiene and hand wash will be sustained.

Global Hand Washing Day is an annual event celebrated every 15th of October since 2008. The day is set aside to sustain awareness and support hand washing with soap to promote easy and cost effective method of preventing hygiene-related infection such as Diarrhea and Pneumonia. It is a day globally recognised as important for the achievement of sustainable health for all especially as it relates to under five children who are the most vulnerable to hygiene-related infections.

“To this end, we encourage more brands, NGOs, and well-meaning Nigerians to key into this day in order to help propagate further the prevention tactics of germs and infection spread which are hand washing. The duo of Dettol and Save The Children International, are commended and are encouraged to keep up with the good works for future years,” he said.