Dissemination of National Hygiene Promotion Strategy 2012 at the national level

4 Jan 2016

Water Aid Bangladesh once again embarked on a successful national dissemination workshop jointly organised by Policy Support Unit (PSU) of Bangladesh in cooperation with UKAid in the capital’s one of the most popular international conference centre. The event marks on the Dissemination of National Hygiene Promotion Strategy 2012 at the national level; having completed dissemination at the divisional, district, upazila and union level.

Speaking on the occasion as the chief guest was the Secretary of Local Government Division, Ministry of Local Government Rural Development and Cooperatives, other dignitaries attending as the special guests and Dr. Khairul Islam , Country Representative of WaterAid Bangladesh gave the welcome speech. Participants have enthusiastically shared their ideas and expertise during the open discussion session . Certainly the dissemination has been informative and worthwhile for future reflection. Promoting hygiene event at this juncture of development when Bangladesh is celebrating as a OD free country, the dissemination workshop have provided a very timely and strategic analysis, that has envisioned other challenges to be tackled.

As hygiene promotion is part of a border health promotion framework which attempts to address the structural determinants of health, effective health promotion is a process that strengthens individuals and groups to make changes in their own lives and also leads to changes outside their direct control such as social, economic and environmental condition. However, despite having knowledge of the importance and benefits of good hygiene, actual practice in Bangladesh is significantly low among different population segments. A study estimated that annually children of under-5 alone in Bangladesh are affected by ARIs and diarrheal diseases that causes an annual expenditure of approximately £60million on ARIs and diarrhea.

In this context, the National Hygiene Promotion Strategy (NHPS) for Water Supply and Sanitation Sector in Bangladesh has been approved by the Government of Bangladesh. It is important to disseminate and operationalise this strategy as it is very much relevant and directly and indirectly contributes to achieve key results in order to achieve through the Health, Population and Nutrition Sector Development Programme (HPNSDP - 2011-2016). WAB was actively involved during the inception and the development of NHPS. On the other hand, Government emphasized on the dissemination of the NHPS among stakeholders at national, divisional, district, upazila and union level. Recognizing WAB’s experience and expertise, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) invited WaterAid to provide technical assistance (TA) for a period of 10 months to help disseminate the promotion strategy and build awareness of health service providers and education workforce on the importance of hygiene under joint donor technical assistance fund (JDTAF).

At the onset of the final dissemination event, WAB had been engaged in organizing orientation for school teachers and health workforces at the upazila level where we have been engaged organising six divisional workshops, a district level workshop and 14 upazila level workshops with the participation of concerned representatives for spreading of dissemination activities on NHPS- 2012. An outreach of nearly 7,000 (primary and high school) teachers, 2,000 field workers and officials of health and family welfare department have been given orientation on hygiene and sanitation. Hygiene promotion materials were distributed among 18,000 teachers and 600,000 students. The managing committees of 700 schools were trained and also an innovative Five-Star award has been introduced to motivate the community schools and community clinics for spreading hygiene activities.

Even though hygiene promotion was supposed to be an integral part of the national sanitation strategy in Bangladesh, budgetary allocations were mostly skewed in favor of building latrines in early 2000s. Significant achievements are seen in the development of sanitation, hygiene promotion remained one of the most challenging areas confronted in the country’s development sector. Efforts so far taken to institutionalize, have been scattered, sporadic and inadequate to mobilize behavioral change plentifully in all sector capacities.

The impact of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programmes on hygiene behaviour still remains low in spite of the improvements in water supply and sanitation in Bangladesh. As the second leading cause of child and infant mortality, pneumonia and diarrhea still remain a matter of concern for the country. Diarrhea is more prevalent, in large part, due to lack of hygiene, as well as overall poorer health and nutritional status. Statistics of Bangladesh National Hygiene Baseline Survey, conducted by ICDDR’B in cooperation of WAB under PSU of LGD in 2014, showed that while educational institutions in the country have sanitation facilities, only over half of these are usable. Only one third schools have the facilities of hand washing with soap near the toilet, and two out of three children did not have clean hands upon checking. The promotion strategy reflects that there should be availability of soap and water in or near the latrine that motivates users to wash hands in a planned and systematic attempt. This enables people to take action to prevent or mitigate WASH related diseases and provides a practical way to facilitate community participation and accountability. This would encompass personal, domestic, and environmental hygiene practices and any action or initiative taken to erect barriers to disease. In the current situation, hygiene promotion can

- Discourage open defecation. Reinforce practices such as washing hands with soap in six critical times

- Reduce health risks faced by women relating to poor menstrual hygiene

- Encourage people to use and maintain toilets and bathing facilities properly

- Improve drinking water quality by promoting safe water collection and storage