October 23, 2018

Everyone is a winner when it comes to handwashing

Written by East Meets West Foundation

Children lined up on stage

Photo Credit: East Meets West Foundation

The simple act of hand washing with soap at critical times such as before eating and after using the toilet can decrease preventable diseases like diarrhea up to 48%. Quite simply, handwashing with soap can save lives, and make children healthy learners and productive citizens!

East Meets West Foundation/Thrive Networks are implementing a multi-year program on deworming and school-based hygiene in Vietnam. The program aims to reduce worm re-infestation rates of soil-transmitted helminths by combining deworming mass drug administration with carefully tailored hygiene messages along with the construction of handwashing facilities with soap. Thus, the government saves money and keeps kids healthier in schools.

Children performing in a play

Photo Credit: East Meets West Foundation

To promote good hygiene and sanitation in schools, a competition was launched in four provinces by Vietnam’s Environmental Health Agency (VIHEMA) of the Ministry of Health and the Department of Education and Training. Dubai Cares and East Meets West Foundation/ Thrive Networks provided financial support.  During this competition, students worked in teams to demonstrate their knowledge of sanitation and hygiene through technical quizzes while also expressing their talents, ranging from creative presentations, singing, dancing and dramas. The final awards ceremony took place in the Trieu Son District of Thanh Hoa Province in honor of Global Handwashing Day.

Children performing in a play

Photo Credit: East Meets West Foundation

Belinda Abraham, East Meets West Foundation’s  Country Director, declared that, ‘all participants are winners because through their involvement in this competition, teams have increased their communities’ knowledge of what it takes to have good hygiene and sanitation,  and  potentially decrease diseases related to soil- transmitted helminths, which are endemic in some areas of Vietnam.’

The simple act of handwashing with soap can make a big difference, and initiatives like school competitions provide a cost-effective way to communicate message, encourage creativity, and along the way, potentially save lives!

East Meets West/Thrive Networks has been working in Vietnam for 30 years with focus on rural water supply and sanitation. Learn more about their work here.