The Hand-washing campaign has failed to take root in Kabarole resulting into an outbreak of dysentery in some parts of the district. The hand washing campaign was aimed at sensitizing rural communities on how to protect themselves against diseases by washing their hands regularly with soap after visiting the toilets and before eating food.
Kabarole district health department and a local NGO Health Through Water and Sanitation (HEWASA), started the hand washing campaign in communities and schools three months ago. The Tippy taps, which were set up in schools, trading centers and markets as part of the campaign to promote the hand washing campaign, have either been vandalized or stolen.
Tippy Taps are cans or plastic bottles that release a small amount of water to wash hands. However, outbreaks of cholera and dysentery have become the order of the day in the sub counties of Kichwamba, Karangura, Katebwa, and Bukuku. Last week, the district health department registered 30 cases of dysentery in Karangura, with majority of the patients having severe diarrhorea.
At Bukuku Primary School in Kichwamba Sub County, six tippy taps were installed at the school three months ago, but the pupils rarely use them. Emmanuel Aliganyira, the headteacher says that some pupils are ignorant about the taps. He says that every Wednesday during the assembly, they sensitize the pupils on the importance of washing hands with soap after visiting the toilet but he is surprised that five pupils contracted dysentry.
He also that some of the tippy taps have been vandalised by the pupils becasue they haven't been taught how to use them. Fred Baguma, a village health team (VHT) member in Kichwamba Sub County says that the practice of hand washing isn’t frequent in the area because of limited access to water. He says some residents walk for more than 3 kilometers to access the nearest water source.
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In Bukuku Sub County, Faith Kabasomi, the health inspector blames the communities for not appreciating the campaign. She says that some of the tippy taps that were installed at markets and busy places were stolen by the residents.
Kabasomi also blames the local leaders for failing the campaign. She says the leaders were supposed to promote the campaign in the community but have done nothing since its inception. Dr. Richard Mugahi, the Kabarole District Health Officer says that the health department is supposed to carry out awarness about the campaign on radio and community dialogues but it is constrained by indequate staff.
He says they are currently using the services of village health teams, but some are reluctant to work becasue they aren't facilitated. Mugahi also says that the water department has promised to construct water sources near markets and schools to enable the communties access water for washing hands.
A 2012/2013 survey by the National Hand Washing Campaign indicates that 27% (two out of every 10 people) who used lavatories washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections. The number of people who washed their hands using soap after visiting washrooms increased from 3% in 2010 to 27% in 2012/2013.
The World Health Organization says if hand washing is emphasized, it is the most effective way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases. Hand washing can also drastically improve the health status of families and also prevent skin infections, eye infections, intestinal worms, and Avian Flu.