The UK celebrated Global Handwashing Day at The Science Museum in London.
Four London-based primary schools were invited to attend the all-day event
to take part in various activities, which were designed to draw attention
to the importance of hand-washing with soap, especially before eating and
after going to the toilet.
The event drew upon the knowledge of guest speakers Dr. Val Curtis of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Grace Mukasa, Chief Executive of African Medical and Research Foundation.
The campaign was covered by local and national media and included a nationwide study of school toilets, which suggested that the “less than ideal” levels of hand-washing is attributed to “inadequate or dirty facilities”, especially within secondary schools.
A big thank you must go to our coordinator, Helen Tipper, our main sponsors, GlaxoSmithKline, and the members of the coalition who made it happen, including funders Unilever, Teal and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
100 School Study
Hand washing with soap is probably the single most cost-effective public health intervention. It limits the spread of cold and flu viruses and prevents the transmission of the bugs that cause diarrhoea and upset stomachs.
Last year in a web survey for GHD we learnt that teenagers were especially concerned about the state of their school toilets and wanted better hand-washing facilities. 1/3 of secondary school girls reported “holding it” while 1/5 of all secondary school children reported avoiding using the toilet altogether, simply because they were “disgusting”. Moreover, only 42% of secondary school children reported the presence of soap in school toilets. Overall, only 46% of teenagers reported that they always used soap.
Figure 1. Levels of hand washing with soap among school children (LSHTM, 2010)