Lifebuoy improves children’s hygiene with behavioral change programme
Head & Senior Infectious Diseases Consultant Physician, Department of Medicine, Hospital Sungai Buloh, Datuk Dr Christopher Lee said that unclean hands are considered the most significant medium to pathogen transfer. Thus, good hand hygiene is one of the key factors in restricting the transfer of bacteria, viruses and other microbes from sources of contamination. “Young children are particularly susceptible to infectious diseases, as they are more care-free and less cautious when it comes to rubbing their eyes, or nose after contact with other people or things. They have a higher propensity to pick up disease-causing germs easily. Thus, it is crucial to educate children on proper hand hygiene by washing their hands regularly with soap and water. Together with proper techniques, this simple act of hand washing can effectively reduce pathogens that cause diseases in most situations. Proper hand hygiene also includes washing hands on key occasions – for example, after going to the toilet, and before eating which can significantly reduce the transmission of infectious diseases,” he added.
HFMD is endemic in all parts of Malaysia and it has become an important public health disease due to its tendency to cause large outbreaks and deaths among children and infants. Our nation has seen a spike in HFMD cases with an increase of 28% recorded as of June 30, 2018 compared to the same period last year. In reducing the incidences of HFMD outbreaks, it is critical to advocate the education on the importance of hand washing with soap and the impact that unclean hands have on the transmission of diseases.
Lifebuoy has a steadfast commitment towards building a healthier Malaysia through the simple yet effective act of hand washing to curb infections. Over the years, Lifebuoy has invested more than RM1Mil to advocate the practice of proper hand hygiene in both primary school and kindergartens through its School of 5 Hand washing Programme. This programme was designed to facilitate behavioral change to encourage children and their families to adopt proper hand washing habit using soap. Since its commencement in 2015, Lifebuoy’s School of 5 hand washing programme has touched 223,258 children in Malaysia.
In addition to educating children on good hygiene habits, Lifebuoy and the Ministry of Health have initiated a pilot project in Sarawak to measure the impact of behavioral change through hand hygiene education amongst mothers and pre-school children. Through the Sarawak Programme, Lifebuoy aims to reinforce that consistent education can positively impact behavioral change amongst children.
A survey was conducted with over 2,000 parents to understand and identify their basic hygiene habits, as well as knowledge around infectious diseases such as HFMD. There are two components to the survey – a pre-survey to ascertain their hygiene habits and HFMD knowledge prior to us conducting the School of 5 programme with their children’s schools, and a post survey 21 days after having concluded the School of 5 programme.
Lifebuoy School of 5 programme has demonstrated a positive increase in the children’s behavior. A minimum two percent increase was recorded in their hand washing behavior across notable occasions such as before and after eating as well as after using the toilet. The respondents have also shown an increase in the use of soap during hand washing post the Lifebuoy programme, with a 13% increase in the use of soap after visiting the toilet; a 12% and 6% increase in the use of soap before and after meals respectively.
“These results prove that our efforts in cultivating good hand hygiene habits are successful and impactful. We believe that habit forming starts from young, thus our focus on educating per-preschoolers and primary school children. Lifebuoy is fully committed towards building a healthier Malaysia through the simple yet effective act of hand washing with soap. Driven by a larger purpose, Lifebuoy has been on a mission to touch as many people as possible to drive the formation of this very habit. Our vision is to instil proper hand washing behavior in 1 billion people globally by 2020,” said Vincent Chong, Beauty, Personal Care & Home Care Director, Unilever Malaysia.
Parents’ and teachers’ behavior can and usually does influence the development of children’s behavior. Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Senior Lecturer, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Monash University, Paul Jambunathan, said that attitudes and behaviors that children learn during their school years could have impact on their life-long health. “Parents must be empowered to become actively involved in their children’s overall development including health-related behaviors, as habits are ingrained when they are developed at an early age. As parents, teaching children good hand washing techniques and habits can keep the children healthier by protecting themselves against touch-related infections and thus safeguard their future,” he added.
By enhancing our understanding of the importance of hand washing and taking a proactive role in our personal hygiene, we can all help to curb the spread of infectious disease. Taking small steps towards better hand hygiene will go a long way in preventing infectious diseases.
About Global Hand washing Day
Global Hand washing Day is an annual global advocacy day dedicated to increasing awareness and understanding about the importance of hand washing with soap as an easy, effective, and affordable way to prevent diseases and save lives. Celebrated annually on October 15, Global Hand washing Day was founded by the Global Public-Private Partnership for Hand washing, and is an opportunity to design, test, and replicate creative ways to encourage people to wash their hands with soap at critical times. Global Hand washing Day is designed to:
- Foster and support a global and local culture of hand washing with soap
- Shine a spotlight on the state of hand washing around the world
- Raise awareness about the benefits of hand washing with soap
Lifebuoy, the world’s leading health soap was first launched in 1894 to support people in their quest for better personal hygiene. Lifebuoy has been consistently championing health through hygiene throughout its 110 year history. Lifebuoy’s anti-bacterial soap with excellent skin cleaning and cleansing properties is suitable and recommended for the whole family protection. With Lifebuoy’s anti-bacterial soap, your family is given the extra protection, to face day to day life confident that germs are kept at bay for a healthier outlook. Today, 1.6 billion people trust Lifebuoy to provide that extra protection against germs for them and their family. Put your trust in Lifebuoy today – guard your family against germs.