October 27th 2009: “Do you wash your hand with soap before touching any food item?” this is a question floating all over the state today. The unfortunate message is that every minute two children die in our country because of diarrhea and respiratory infection. The fortunate message is that we could control this fatality just by bringing a small change in our behavior.
Human excreta are the main source of diarrheal pathogens… these pathogens are passed from an infected host to a new one via various routes (for example water, flies, fingers etc.). While the routes are numerous, they all emanate from one source, i.e., feaces. Secondary measures (food handling, water purification and fly control) may have an impact, however, far more important are the primary barriers – sanitation and hand-washing – after feacal contact. These barriers prevent feacal pathogens from reaching the domestic environment in the first place. Hand-washing interrupts the transmission of disease agents and so can significantly reduce diarrhea and respiratory infections, as well as skin infections and trachoma.
After the observance of International year of sanitation by the UN General Assembly in the year 2008, the practice of hand-washing with soap tops the international hygiene agenda and started celebrating Global Hand-washing Day on 15th October every year. However, it is celebrated all over India on 27th October.
Commemorating the Hand washing Day, North East Social Trust (NEST), with due support from UNICEF has organized public meetings in various school premises involving students and teachers in the process and brought out rallies for public awareness in different places of Golaghat, Sonitpur and Lakhimpur Districts of Assam.
Elected peoples’ representatives, representatives of district administration, Axom Sarba Shiksha Abhijan and Public Health Engineering had participated in these programs along with local eminent citizens.
Rashtravasha Prathimk Vidalaya, Gohpur in Sonitpur District, Nowboicha Model LP School, in Lakhimpur District and Namdoyang LP School, Bokakhat in Golaghat District the central launching programs were organized in the district level.
In the last two weeks more than 90 volunteers of NEST are visiting more than 1000 schools across 100 Panchayats in these districts to generate awareness among the school children on the importance of 5 steps of hand-washing with soap before touching any food item. Equipped with various colourful Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials provided by UNICEF these volunteers are going on from school to school demonstrating 5 steps of hand-washing with soap eliciting importance of a cultural and habitual change among the public at large. These initiatives would be continued till 30th of October 2009 to cover at least one lakh school children in these districts.