BY GEORGINA KEKEA
TODAY October 15 marks Global Handwashing day. Up to 70 percent of cases of diarrhoea may be associated with poor food hygiene thus this day is deemed very important.
Food-borne illnesses are said to be a major cause of death in low income settings, particularly among children under five.
Contamination of food can also lead to a wide range of illnesses and outbreaks, many of which are particularly dangerous for pregnant women, fetuses, and people with compromised immune systems.
In a statement by bodies responsible for this activity today, they highlighted that hygiene promotion activities have shown improved food hygiene behaviors and reduced contamination in food.
“One study with mothers in Nepal showed that food hygiene behavior change, including improved handwashing, is feasible through a behavior-centered intervention process,” the report said.
The report said, critical food-related times for handwashing with soap includes: before cooking or preparing food, before eating, and before feeding someone (including breastfeeding).
“Caregivers should wash their own hands at all critical times, and model or enforce good handwashing behavior for children. Caregivers include parents, siblings, other relatives, school or daycare professionals, and others.”
Research indicates that existing routines can be modified to help form new habits.
For example, a meal can serve as a ‘trigger’ moment for handwashing. Habitual handwashing is more likely when handwashing facilities are established, and time is set aside for handwashing before eating, to help develop a group norm.
This year, Solomon Islands joins the rest of the world to mark the Global Handwashing Day. The theme focuses on the links between handwashing and food – including food hygiene and nutrition.
In Honiara, activities to mark ‘handwashing day’ will be held at the national art gallery. An invite from the Health Promotion department in the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS) says students from various schools will be also be part of the formal program to mark this global event.
The MHMS is calling on the general public to be a part of this event which will take place from 9am to 1pm.