Months after the Dettol team took the hand hygiene campaign initiative to primary schools across the major cities in Nigeria, the initiative has started yielding the desired result.
In many of the schools where the six steps of effective hand wash have been taught, the management of the respective schools has taken practical steps to own the initiative thereby deepening and entrenching the culture of clean hands among Nigerian children.
A recent visit to some of the schools in Lagos, southwest Nigeria for instance, revealed how schools are extending the frontiers of the initiative tagged: Dettol Good Health is in Our Hands campaign, which has become a model for health education in schools. A cross section of school administrators explained that they adopted the six steps because it is a simple, cheaper and practical method to protect children against germs that cause infection and diseases.
They noted that by inculcating the habit of regular washing of hands with Dettol soap and clean water in the pupils, many of them will be healthy, thereby not only attend school regularly, but are active and ready to learn.
Appraising the significance of the Dettol hand wash initiative, the Head Teacher, Adeyemi Memorial School, Orile-Osodi, Lagos, Mrs. Angela Imoh, stated that following the practical demonstration of the steps to the pupils, the management had noticed improved attention to personal hygiene of the pupils by the parents.
“This positive development has further spurred the school management to set aside a day in the month when the pupils come together to wash their hands as an affirmation of their belief in the Dettol kill-germ initiative.
‘‘We received the Dettol health initiative with the whole of our heart, because it has created awareness among our children and even among the teachers about the need to wash our hands regularly with Dettol soap and clean water, because Dettol soap cleanses our hands and makes us to be free from germs,’’ she said.
Imoh added that she was quite convinced that the six steps of hand wash have been internalized by the pupils and that they now practice it on their own, especially when they are at home.
She revealed that her own children who also attended the same school where she is the head teacher, have imbibed the habit of washing their hands with Dettol soap and clean water whenever their meals were served.
‘‘They will say, mummy we want to wash our hands with Dettol soap, before we eat. So, those things are sort of making our children healthy when they come to school. More than before, they now know the importance of cleanliness and the importance of Dettol soap in killing germs.
“Generally, there has been a noticeable increase in personal hygiene consciousness among the children to the extent that they don’t joke with the need for them to wash their hands after play; it is not just before they eat or after they have eaten. When the Dettol team came to do the six steps, they told them about the various times they need to wash their hands and this includes any time they use the toilet or touch any dirty objects. Among our pupils in the school, we have noticed this awareness especially those in primary five and six. Whenever you ring the bell for break they will look for water to wash their hands before taking their meals,” she stated.
On measures put in place by the school management to make the initiative a sustainable one, Imoh pointed out that the proprietor of the school had approved that a day of every last week of the month should be set aside for special hand wash for children in the school. Aside this, she informed that the school teaches the pupils health education and personal hygiene as well as award prizes to the neatest pupil at the end of the session.
Her words: ‘‘What we intend to do is that every month we will set aside one day and that day we will bring out washing bowls with Dettol and towel. According to my madam (Proprietor), we will bring out bowls with Dettol and hand towel. The children will come and demonstrate a sort of drama where someone comes out of the toilet and washes his or her hands; another wants to eat, he comes and washes his hands before and after eating, or someone goes to dispose the garbage bin, he comes back to wash his or her hands before doing other things. So we are saying let them be aware of the necessary steps they must take, let them know that they must wash hands regularly with Dettol soap and clean water so that they will not be infected with germs that cause many of the infections and diseases.’’
Speaking in a similar vein, the Head Teacher of Phebean Schools, Ojota, Lagos, Mrs. Funso Lawani, described the Dettol hand hygiene mission to the school as a very impacting initiative while recounting the personal experience of her son. ‘‘I have a son in Basic One in this school. Ever since the programme was held, you hear the boy say mummy, I want to wash my hands with Dettol soap and clean water. I think our pupils are conscious of that, which is very good,’’ she enthused.
Although she stated that it was a practice in the school to have hand wash bowls in each classroom, she explained that the activation of the Dettol six steps had raised the awareness among the pupils, teachers and parents on the immense benefits of regular washing of hands.
Lawani said, ‘‘we’ve been doing it before, but with that programme, the pupils now know better that it’s not only when they want to eat or after they have eaten that they need to wash their hands. During the activation of the Dettol six steps of hand wash they were taught so many things including the various ways they can contact germs, infections and diseases. They were taught about how they can protect themselves from germs in order to stay healthy. The initiative has significantly made them to be hygiene conscious as they now imbibe that habit of washing their hands at all times, and this is lovely.’’
To take the initiative further, she added that the school ensured the pupils wash their hands after their physical education classes because of their exposure to dirt. According to her, “we have a teacher who comes around twice a week to teach physical education. So the pupils know that after the games they have to wash their hands. We do it in form of washing of hands after the activities because the pupils know that the next thing to do after playing is to wash their hands with Dettol soap and clean water.’’
A pupil of Sound Global Nursery and Primary School, Alimoso, Lagos, Master Oluwajare Umar said he was now better informed about germs and how he could prevent himself against infection through regular washing of hands.
His mate, Miss Bisoye Adekanola said she would continue to educate her friends about how regular washing of hands with Dettol soap and clean water could help them stay healthy.
Speaking in like manner, Miss Anuoluwa David of Flombset Private School, also in Alimoso said good health is truly in the hands of every one.
Reckitt Benckiser, through its flagship protection brand, Dettol, launched the hand wash initiative in Nigeria, in 2009. The initiative has been taken to over four million in-school kids and over 80,000 teachers in about 30,000 schools in the cities of Lagos, Ibadan, Abuja and Kano. The Corporate Social Responsibility, CSR, initiative is endorsed by the Federal Ministry of Health and the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA.