“YOUR LIFE IS IN YOUR HANDS”
Tell us a bit about RSPH & its work globally?
The Royal Society for Public Health is an independent, multi-disciplinary charity, dedicated to the promotion and protection of collective human health and well-being. With stakeholders including healthcare workforce, charities, community groups, public health specialists and local and national government bodies, we have a global outlook and many international members.
What brings RSPH to WONCA conference in Dhaka?
The Lifebuoy “Help a child reach 5” is the first campaign to be accredited by the RSPH, and as there are so many successful Lifebuoy projects being undertaken in Bangladesh, this conference is a very good opportunity to talk about the value of the campaign and of course, the value of hand-washing.
Could you elaborate a bit on germ protection & role of hand wash with soap?
Diarrhoea causes 4 percent of deaths globally, and there are around 4 billion cases of diarrhea world-wide. Three to five million cases of respiratory diseases occur every year around the world, resulting in between 250,000-500,000 deaths. We know that globally every year 1.7m children die before their fifth birthdays from preventable infectious illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.
I am passionate that everyone should wash their hands regularly, and particularly at the right time – the Unilever School of 5 teaches children to wash their hands before meals, after using the toilet and before going to bed.
RSPH has endorsed the Lifebuoy Help a Child Reach 5 Campaign. Could you briefly tell us about this endorsement?
The RSPH reviewed the formulation of the Lifebuoy range of soap, body wash and hand-sanitiser, they examined the accuracy of its advertising claims and benchmarked the educational hand hygiene campaign. They also reviewed research around the behaviour change programme and looked at the evidence on which Lifebuoy designed the format of their outreach educational work. After examining all these things, the accreditation for the Lifebuoy “Help a Child Reach 5 Campaign” was given.
Since you are here for family physician conference, any recommendation you'd have for creating a healthy family/ society in Bangladesh?
Because people can't see micro-organisms or germs, it is sometimes hard to discuss how germs can cause infection, and the importance of washing germs off our hands, so media campaigns using the glow in the dark powder can be very effective to visually demonstrate the “journey of the germ.”
Doctors may want to display easy-to-read posters in the waiting room. If there is a toilet at the surgery or anywhere the public go for health care, then the back of the door is a great place to leave a message about hand washing!
What could schools do?
In the Zambian school, the children have to line up and wash their hands in front of the prefect or teacher before being allowed into the dining hall. This is a really good idea. I would like to see hand washing with soap before kids come in from the playground as well – their hands get very dirty when playing which is fine, but best to get rid of the germs before sitting down for lessons.