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I have recently begun working for Hand Dryers UK as a marketing assistant and have already become an enthusiastic follower of health and hygiene issues, with specific interest in initiatives to raise hand washing awareness, both in the UK, and Globally. Whilst conducting different aspects of research into hand washing issues I have begun to be aware of an increasing number of awareness/environmental days aimed at raising the profile of some of these health and hygiene issues. To help flag these up for me I have made my own calendar, with a view to researching and creating articles around the work of organization’s who have set up these days.
Whilst writing my first Blog, ‘Promoting Hand Washing Awareness’ I made a number of different contacts with some of the above organisation’s and posed several questions to Hanna Woodburn, the Communications Director for the Global Public- Private Partnership for Hand washing. Hanna has a Master’s Degree in Communication, Culture and Technology from GeorgetownUniversity and has a background in public policy.
Here are my questions and her replies:
Do you know of, or are you involved in, any initiatives being used to promote hand washing/hygiene in third world countries and can you describe what these are?
Our organization, the Global Public-Private Partnership for Hand washing, founded Global Hand washing Day. This global advocacy day is celebrated in over 100 countries and promotes hand washing in schools and communities. Over 1 billion people have been reached with hand washing messages as a result of Global Hand washing Day. Many of our partners are working to implement hand washing behavior change programs around the world.
What role do you think hand washing has in slowing down the spread of seasonal influenza, and how would you change this?
In addition to being a life-saving preventative measure for those most vulnerable to diarrhea and pneumonia, hand washing is also important to fight the spread of illness such as the common cold and influenza.
Hand hygiene awareness days and weeks are now becoming part of our yearly calendar. Do you think these are beginning to have an impact, and how do you think can this be measured?
Hand hygiene awareness days, such as Global Hand washing Day, are having an impact. We’ve seen a significant growth in the number of countries celebrating Global Hand washing Day, and oftentimes the celebrations lead to long-term investment in hand washing promotion and behavior change activities. For example, in the Philippines Global Hand washing Day was used by non-governmental organizations and the government to announce new policies for group hand washing in schools and daycare centers throughout the country. Global Hand washing Day attracts the attention of the governments, private sector, NGOs, media and others to the issue of hand washing and forces everyone to answer the question: What are you doing to improve hand washing behavior?
Global Hand washing Day is also an important tool for attracting sustainable investments in hand washing. Global Hand washing Day is measured in its popularity and ability to inspire hand washing programs and policies. Hand washing can be measured in the both the household and institutional settings. That is one reason why we are advocating for the inclusion of hand washing in government sanitation, schools, and other related programs and as a target in the post-2015 global agenda.
Thanks to Hanna for her responses to my interview questions.