Hygiene Multiplier Effect – Handwashing can reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by 23-40 per cent in the world and reduce diarrhoeal illness in people around the world with weakened immune systems by 58 per cent.

Hygiene acts as an enabler for better livelihoods since people are able to live fuller and healthier lives. Read on.

A community that thrives has many factors that affect it a growing economy, a safe livelihood, good education, and a growing and sustainable infrastructure. A common thread in all these factors is the health and well-being of communities as a whole and individuals as a part. Hand hygiene plays a critical role in leading a healthy life by acting as the first line of defence against multiple bacterial and viral infections. Infections that can be easily avoided. Washing hands has a strong bearing on child mortality, maternal health, poverty alleviation, and improvement of overall quality of life.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that teaching people about handwashing helps them and their communities stay healthy. It further states that handwashing can reduce the number of people who get sick with diarrhoea by 23-40 per cent in the world and reduce diarrhoeal illness in people around the world with weakened immune systems by 58 per cent.

Handwashing in India: What data says

While hand hygiene awareness has been a priority, especially during the pandemic, improper hand hygiene is still prevalent in many rural areas of India. This results in significant social, health, and economic problems.

  • In a survey by The National Sample Survey in 2019, it was found that 70 per cent of rural Indians do not use soap or detergent while washing their hands, and 42 per cent of urban Indians also do the same.
  • In addition to that, research done by UNICEF in 2020 stated that 91 million Indians, or 20 per cent of India’s urban population, lack basic handwashing facilities at home.

These numbers tell a different story, a story in which we are not as habitual of washing our hands as we previously thought. Some causes of this can be relegated to societal and communal habits, and education can help with this. However, bringing solutions that are affordable, sustainable, and innovative can actually address the problems faced by such communities, and is the best step forward.

Simple solutions can lead to better hygiene

More and more communities are asking for solutions that can better their life in simple ways. The government is looking at private companies to bring out products and processes that can enhance everyday lives and still be affordable. The private companies, indeed, are listening to the communities and the government. In just the last two years, we have seen investment in time, effort and research by private companies to create hand washing stations that can make hygienic hand washing accessible to all.

Creating awareness is the need of the hour

In keeping with the need of the hour, some of the leading private players have, in association with public entities, created awareness campaigns focusing on the larger issue of mass hygiene and sanitation. An example would be the collaboration of JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) with private firms to promote the ‘Achi Aadat Campaign’, where the importance of hand hygiene was enunciated. This campaign also raised awareness about mobile handwashing stations that were provided to schools. Other celebrated campaigns such as ‘High5 for Handwashing’, and ‘Dho Daal’ were crafted to raise awareness about the benefits of handwashing with soap and the corresponding scientific outcomes – such as reduced child mortality.

The right kind of hygiene and sanitation products and initiatives enable people to keep healthy and, thereby, effectively contribute to society at large, and solve problems and challenges at the community level. In this context, hygiene acts as an enabler for better livelihoods since people are able to live fuller and healthier lives.

In Conclusion

Every community wants to grow and be better than where they are today, safe hygiene will always be a cornerstone for achieving this, and private companies need to be proactive to make that difference. Ensuring adequate hygiene and sanitation is a collective goal, and It is only when we act together and collaborate that we can create thriving communities in India and across the globe.

(This article is authored by Mr Amit Konlade, Global SCM Operations – Leader, SATO)

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